The following opinion piece appeared in the Savannah Morning News on September 28, 2020. Ms Mackey is the communications director of Skidaway Island Democrats.

Rosemary Mackey

On Saturday [9/19], the headline on the Savannah Morning News indicated that half a million people in Georgia lack access to decent internet. This was undoubtedly brought to light as children are challenged with on-line learning.

This population probably overlaps with the half-million people who lack health insurance in Georgia because of the intransigence of legislators who refuse to expand Medicaid, so all Georgians can access a basic level of healthcare.

Last week, the Commonwealth Fund, which supports independent research on health policy reform, presented its annual report assessing 49 health measures in the 50 states & DC. They found: (1) Americans are living shorter lives than in 2014, and Black Americans are nearly twice as likely as whites to die prematurely from treatable conditions, suicide, and alcohol and drug overdoses; (2) Health coverage gains associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have stalled, while affordability of insurance and out-of-pocket costs have worsened.

The bad news is that Georgia’s national overall rank fell to 46th from 43rd last year; 49th in Access & Affordability from 46th, and 35th in Healthy Lives from 34th.
The headline asked, “What is the State doing” about the lack of decent internet; shouldn’t it also be asking “What is the State doing about these appalling health rankings?”

We can all work on improving the Healthy Lives ranking. Healthy Savannah’s website, www.healthsavannah.org, outlines healthy choices we can make. We can also keep lobbying our state legislators to expand Medicaid and our federal legislators to strengthen the ACA.

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