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Letters - May 13, 2009

State Sen. Seay a supporter of health care in Georgia

To the editor:

A month and a half ago, Georgia hospitals were staring down the barrel of a 10 percent cut in health-care funding, posing a very real threat to Southern Regional Medical Center and the community it serves.

Thanks, in part, to the leadership of State Sen. Valencia Seay, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee, the cut was avoided. Southern Regional Medical Center is extremely grateful to have her support on an issue that not only impacts health-care providers and their patients, but the state's economic vitality.

Under the current formula, for every dollar the state spends on health care, the federal government provides a $2 match. When the state reduces spending, millions of federal matching dollars are redirected to other states, putting Georgia's already fragile economy at greater risk.

To make matters worse, another cut in state health-care funding would have dealt a major blow to many Georgia health-care providers, who may have been forced out of business.

While some think that state health-care funding only impacts health-care providers and low-income families, State Sen. Seay clearly understands how the issue affects all Georgians. When the state underpays for health-care services, a hidden tax is passed on to Georgia businesses, the primary purchasers of commercial health-care insurance.

As insurance costs continue to escalate, businesses are forced to reduce coverage, pass on higher costs to their employees, or drop health-care coverage altogether.

As a result of the high cost of health-care insurance, more than 1.7 million Georgians are currently without coverage.

In the 2009 Georgia General Assembly, during a time when so many Georgians are fearful of losing their health-care coverage, State Sen. Seay stood in the gap for them by voting to avoid these devastating health-care cuts. For that, the Georgia hospital community is extremely grateful.

CLINT MATTHEWS

President and Chief Executive OfficerSouthern Regional Health System