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How Georgia can protect health care freedom
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I’ve felt a swell of pride for my fellow Georgians and every American who flooded town halls across the state and country in August to raise their voice against a government take-over of health care. To every mother, father, doctor, nurse and concerned citizen who took time out of their day to tell their congressman what they think of health care reform - thank you. You raised concerns shared by millions of Americans. By speaking up about the damaging effects this administration’s policies could have on our country, you forced these elected officials to listen to the very people who put them in office. 


You are what make democracy effective. 


Unfortunately, based on the president’s recent last ditch effort to sell his version of health care reform, he doesn’t appear to have heard the concerns people raised during Congress’ August recess.


Concerns like being forced to purchase health care or pay a penalty, and concerns that a public option will only create more government bureaucracy. 


However, I can assure you that your state leaders here in Georgia have heard those concerns loud and clear. We are committed to protecting citizens’ rights to the very core. That is why we are proposing a Constitutional Amendment that will allow people to choose their health care and prevent the federal government from forcing it upon them. The purpose of a Constitutional Amendment is to either create or protect certain rights. The right to choose health care coverage or service should be protected in Georgia.


Earlier this month, I joined several fellow Republican senators at the State Capitol to unveil a Constitutional Amendment that will protect Georgia’s citizens from being forced into government-run health care. This Health Care States Rights Protection ensures every Georgian the freedom to accept or reject any health care or health insurance plan. The Amendment would also prohibit any government from punishing an individual or business that does not participate in such health plans. The measure will be proposed during the 2010 legislative session beginning in January, and if passed, will be on the November ballot for voter approval. 


States hold the key to real health care reform. Georgia will be a state that respects the rights of its people, and will not allow them to be bullied by their federal government. The proposals circulating in Washington seek to force the hand of individuals and businesses to purchase health care they may not want or need. Democratic leaders have proposed a single-payer health care plan. 


Single-payer systems, like in Canada, make it illegal for citizens to go outside of the government’s health care plan and contract for their own medical services. The public plan option being pushed by the Obama Administration will force more than 100 million Americans to lose their current private coverage, according to calculations by the Heritage Foundation.  


Real health care reform encourages personal responsibility by putting control in the hands of individuals.


As I have outlined before, we can achieve sound reform in the health care industry through a simple, three-pronged approach. First, individuals must have access to cafeteria-style health care plans with low premiums and higher deductibles. These should be portable and tax deductible. Next, everyone should have a personal, tax-free medical savings account that provides payment for deductibles, non-covered and elective items, and long term care. 


Finally, the relationship patients have with their general practitioner should be based on fixed cost personal and family plans that are tax deductible. 


What we need is a transition from our current system of health care to the above approach. It’s imperative that these changes be enacted in time for the new generation of working professionals, while still providing the care that has been promised to our existing workforce. Of course, as with any transitional process, the key is flexibility.


This is where the states come in. 


Georgia should take the lead in proposing the above health care remedies and help facilitate a timely and organized transition, while keeping promises to those who already have a stake in the existing health care system. 


Now is make it or break it time for America. We need to get health care out of the government’s hands before more jobs are lost and more money is wasted.  While Georgia is on the way to protecting citizens’ health care options, we need your support.


Keep raising your voice on this issue, as I will keep raising mine. Call your state senators and representatives to support passage of the Health Care States Rights Protection Constitutional Amendment, and call on your congressmen to remind them that their people want less government and more freedom. Whether voicing your concerns at a town hall meeting, marching through Washington with fellow tea party protestors, or calling your state and federal elected officials, you are helping us get one step closer to achieving health care freedom for all Georgians.    


Sen. Chip Pearson can be reached at (404) 656-9921 or via e-mail