Letter to the editor

It was at first with interest, that turned to disgust, that I read your Aug. 31 Messenger feature story about Senate Bill 248 and the proposed enabling Georgia DHR rule change that is to rescue 48 of the remaining troubled Georgia public hospitals, mostly in rural and underserved areas. Almost all Georgia hospitals are struggling financially, with a half dozen public hospitals having closed over just the past three years. The closed hospitals include Hutcheson in Fort Oglethorpe and North Georgia Medical Center in Speaker Ralston's home base of Ellijay, which now has emergency services only. (Readers should word search Chris Marr for a more detailed analysis.)

While public hospitals drop like flies, the Gold Dome Republican politicians' first move was to commission a lengthy “study.” Not by an independent group mind you, but a group of insiders beholding to the Republican leadership. Their long-awaited solution to this public health care crisis, as outlined in your article: propose to pass a tax credit so the public can donate and create a fund of up to $50 million, then allow the 48 hospitals in the worst shape (assuming they can stay in business that long) to fill out an application and compete with each other for a grant from this hoped-for $50 million fund, which would only average $1million each. And that is assuming the $50 million is donated by private citizens sometime in late 2017. Really? What about 2019, 2020, and beyond?

What a typical load of smoke and mirrors shell game, which has been the hallmark of how the Gold Dome crowd has approached every important issues since the Republicans took over the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, and both houses of the General Assembly 14 years ago. Smoke, mirrors, and shell games are designed to divert your attention. That's the con: divert the public's attention from the many crises that loom larger every additional day they are ignored by the Gold Dome crowd. “Fill out an application, and we will look at it, and maybe down the road, IF the money is donated by the public, we MIGHT give you 48 hospitals a donation worth UP TO $4 million.” For every hospital that gets $4 million, three hospitals necessarily get $0.00. What a load of bunk. I am sure the only $4 million credit would go to a Gainesville facility (home of Gov. Deal).

Here is the real story that the press tries to ignore and the Gold Dome crowd runs from like the Black Plague — which is what it really is to them — a BLACK plague.

Because these Gold Dome Republican right wing-nut cases, with the Northwest Georgia legislators right in the front of the line, want to be able to claim their cultural and political purity and brag that they refused to have anything to do with the health care program passed by that black man (not their actual words of course) in their White House, thus refusing federal Medicaid dollars under the Affordable Healthcare Act, these Gold Dome wing-nuts have cost Georgia hospitals, primarily these 48 still standing (many not much longer), plus those like Hutcheson that have already gone under, $9 million dollars per day, every day, 365, for the past five years. That totals $16.5 billion they have taken from the pockets of these hospitals and out of the Georgia economy over the past five years! Outrageous and unforgivable! For these 48, that would be $342 million dollars each! It would be $68.4 million dollars each per year, for God's sake. Even with a conservative multiplier effect of 10, that is a five-year loss of $165 billion to the Georgia economy. And that does not even account for the billions in lost productivity and/or lost lives from the resulting reduction or complete loss of local health care.

So just like the Gold Dome Republicans regularly pit cities and counties against each other, so local officials will not speak up, much less team up, to have an uprising against the Gold Dome for all the unfunded mandates they send to local governments every year, to help pay for the Republican corporate welfare policies, they now intend to pit the these 48 failing hospitals against each other like a bunch of starving dogs going after one tiny bite of meat, which small bite may or may not even be there when the fight is over. “But beware you 48 hospitals and your communities: no complaining about the REAL issues and REAL problems, or we will remember when you send in your application to be eligible to join the dog fight.”

Disgusting. But the public keeps buying it, so Georgians deserve what they get.

Hannah Grant, Ringgold