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Letters: Rep. Shelton took a great stand for Emory Eastside

Two and a half months ago, Georgia hospitals were staring down the barrel for a 10 percent cut in health care funding, posing a very real threat to Emory Eastside Medical Center and the community it serves.

Thanks in part to the leadership of Rep. Donna Shelton, who serves on the House Health Appropriations Committee, the cut was avoided. Emory Eastside is extremely grateful to have her support on an issue that not only affects health care providers and their patients, but also the state's economic vitality.

Under the current formula, for every dollar the state spends on health care, the federal government provides a $2 match. When the state reduces spending, millions of federal matching dollars are redirected to other states, putting Georgia's already-fragile economy at greater risk. To make matters worse, another cut in state health care funding would have dealt a major blow to many Georgia health care providers who may have been forced out of business.

While some think that state health care funding only impacts health care providers and low-income families, Shelton clearly understands how the issue affects all Georgians. When the state underpays for health care services, a hidden tax is passed on to Georgia businesses, the primary purchasers of commercial health care insurance.

As insurance costs continue to escalate, businesses are forced to reduce coverage, pass on higher costs to their employees or drop health care coverage altogether. As a result of the high costs of health care insurance, more than 1.7 million Georgians are without coverage.

In the 2009 Georgia Assembly, during a time when so many Georgians are fearful of losing their health care coverage, Shelton stood in the gap for them by voting to avoid these devastating health care cuts.

For that, the Georgia hospital community is extremely grateful.