Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan created a task force to study health care access and costs. It could lead to legislation being proposed in the upcoming session of the General Assembly. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Georgia lieutenant governor names health care task force

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced a task force on health care access and cost Wednesday.

Members include Senate leaders on health care issues and various officials of companies and institutions with a stake in the high cost of health care. That includes a human resources official, who has to deal with employee health care costs, and Clark Howard, a consumer advocate with a large following and audience on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB who also writes a column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It also includes representatives who sell some of the products and services that are driving up health care costs, such as hospitals and pharmacies, and the insurance companies that are helping shift those costs increasingly to consumers. There’s also a representative of the governor’s office and university experts in health informatics.

Duncan’s office said in a statement that the task force will focus on “price transparency and other free market solutions,” technology and employer innovation.

The task force was not created by legislation, but such task forces are frequently the springboard to propose new bills in the upcoming session. Former Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle also had a health care task force.

Members of the new task force, according to Duncan’s office:

Chairman, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan

Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, vice chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and a physician

Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, member of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee

Sen. Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee

Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta, chairwoman of the Senate Ethics Committee and a physician

Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and a physician

Ryan Loke, special projects coordinator, Office of the Governor

Barbara Barrett, director of human resources and benefits, Langdale Industries Inc.

Lance Boles, CEO and pharmacist of Hartwell Drugs

Jon Duke, director of health informatics, Georgia Tech, and a physician

Gregory Esper, associate chief medical officer and physician, Emory Healthcare

Clark Howard, consumer advocate

Toni P. Miles, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, and a physician, University of Georgia

Debra Stokes, executive director, Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center at Mercer University

Carie Summers, CFO and senior vice president, Georgia Hospital Association

Jesse Weathington, Georgia director, Total Spectrum, an advocate for insurance companies


Sept. 5, State Capitol, Room 450

Oct. 9, location TBA

Nov. 5, location TBA

All meetings will be streamed by the Senate Press Office. Additionally, according to his office, Duncan will accept questions and moderate the discussion using Facebook Live.

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