Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal, both candidates for Governor of Georgia, issued statements to Partner Up! for Public Health about public health and the structure of public health in Georgia.
Their statements are available below.
Republican gubernatorial nominee Nathan Deal:
“Governmental placement of public health will not solve all the problems of public health, but getting placement right can be a start in better serving our citizens and making Georgia a national public health leader, as we should be with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and nine degree granting public health programs in our academic institutions. I look forward to reviewing the December final report of the recommendations of the Public Health Commission and to discussing the Commission’s recommendations.”
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Roy Barnes:
“Eighteen percent of Georgians are uninsured, and even more are underinsured. Those individuals that are inadequately insured are less likely to receive preventive and primary care services and ultimately face worse health outcomes; further, they are forced to rely on emergency health care services, driving up health costs for taxpayers and putting undue strain on hospitals and health care providers. A majority of Georgians receive health care benefits through their employer; however, as unemployment has risen in Georgia, so has the number of uninsured individuals. We can start reducing the number of uninsured Georgians by creating more jobs in the state.
“My vision for public health in Georgia is simple – we need to have a public health system that addresses the needs of the diverse communities across our state. Prevention – not just treatment and preparedness – is vital, which means that we must be willing to support the vehicles that provide valuable public health services for Georgia families. Therefore, we must protect funding for grant-in-aid to the counties that need it most, while also providing county health departments with the resources they need to serve their unique populations.
“For public health agencies and workers to prevent and protect against the spread of disease, injuries, and disaster, a strong, cohesive public health infrastructure must be present in our state. In order to accomplish this, we must do several things. First, we need to make an honest assessment of our public health workforce needs, and then provide opportunities for education and training to the public health workers of tomorrow. Second, we must bolster our state’s public health capacity by joining forces with organizations from the private health sector as well as building strong public health organizations and leaders. Lastly, we must strengthen our public health information systems, which will allow public health officials to communicate with the public, gather and utilize data, and share crucial information with state agencies and officials, all in a more effective and efficient manner.
“I agree that the state needs to study whether we should keep Public Health in the Department of Community Health, create a new department or include it as an attached agency within one of the existing departments. Clearly, Georgia’s failure to keep up in public health over the past eight years is troubling and we must reverse these trends.
“I believe we need to make is as easy as possible for every Georgian, regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic status, to receive health insurance. Second, we need to improve access to health care services – no matter where you live in Georgia, every individual in this state should be able to find affordable, quality health care services in their community. Additionally, we need to make sure that, regardless of the federal health care reform outcomes, Georgians are able to make their own choices when it comes to health care – we should all be able to choose our own physicians and hospitals. Lastly, in order to serve Georgia’s ever-growing population, we must ensure that we have a highly skilled health care workforce and a finely tuned health care infrastructure in place in our state.”