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Locals want health care reform
May say reform needed, plan complicated
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President Barack Obama says his health-care plans aims to:

• Reduce long-term growth of health-care costs for businesses and government-
• Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health-care costs.
• Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans.
• Invest in prevention and wellness.
• Improve patient safety and quality of care.
• Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans.
• Maintain coverage when a worker changes or loses a job.
• End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing
medical conditions.
When Janet Hunter, 50, left her home of 10 years in quaint Dahlonega to move to Hinesville, she wasn’t trying to escape the small-town feel she had gotten used to.
She wanted to reform her personal health care.
“My health had started to go down and down because of stress,” she said. “I reached the point where I had to take the advice that I often give my patients and that is, ‘take care of yourself first.’”
So Hunter, a psychiatrist, left her private practice and her home a year ago to become an independent contractor at Winn Army Community Hospital on Fort Stewart.
“I struggled with the decision to change, but I did what I had to do,” she said. “The business end of my practice was getting increasingly difficult with the insurance companies creating more and more hoops and hurdles for me and my patients to jump through, with the pre-authorization process and the decreasing reimbursements year after year, and all at the same time the overhead cost was rising.”
Like President Barack Obama, who on Wednesday night announced his $900 billion health-care plan aimed at providing coverage for everyone, Hunter said she believes health care in the country needs revamping and, more importantly, everyone should be held accountable. 
“The insurance companies say they are trying to manage care and ensure that the patients are receiving what they need,” she said, “But that is absolutely not their job.”
However, Hunter said she is not certain care management should be left in the government’s hands either.
“There is really no easy solution,” she said. “But there are two primary things that need to be done. We need to get back to where the physicians are the primary decision makers and not the insurance companies, and the second thing is that we have to stop all of the lawsuits, because many physicians still practice defensive medicine so they don’t get sued.”
State Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, mostly agrees with Hunter, except for a few points.
While he said he enjoyed the president’s speech and understands the sincerity of what Obama is trying to push, Williams said he doubts what the president and Democrats want is “financially doable.”
“The idea that you are going to add millions of new people and its going to cost less money is hard to swallow,” Williams said. “I have never seen a federal government agency that did not morph into something much larger and something more expensive.”
Last week, Republicans in the Georgia Senate discussed blocking any legislation handed down from Washington that includes a government public-health option by amending the Georgia Constitution.
“We’re telling Democrats in Washington, D.C., that proposals to deny or limit access to the purchase of private health care are simply unacceptable,” Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, told the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Sept. 3. “Our basic freedoms are at risk with the government-run health care proposals coming out of Washington.”
So what is the answer to the current state of health care?
The question still has Hunter baffled. However, she said, she knows something needs to be done for the sake of the public’s health.
“I am really not sure what the answer is,” Hunter said. “But let’s get a grip. Let’s do something instead of fussing and fighting. This is America and if anybody can get it done, we can do it.”
William sided with his senate colleagues on the issue.
“The solution is putting the patient back in control of the dollars. Right now, either the government, the insurance company or the lawyers are deciding what the costs are,” he said. “The only person out of the loop is the patient. That is unhealthy.”
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