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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Reps. Linder, Johnson sound off on health care

Camie Young

Camie Young

Gwinnett's two congressmen were divided -- along party lines -- on the health care reform bill, which passed on Saturday.

"Today, we are one step closer to enacting historic health care reform," said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, whose district includes portions of Lilburn and Norcross. "For the majority of my constituents who receive health coverage through their employer, this bill will provide stability by doing away with rate increases if you get sick or coverage denials for pre-existing conditions. For the more than 190,000 residents in my district who have no health insurance, it will allow access to affordable care."

Johnson said he received constituents' calls and letters supporting the bill, and the Democrat said he was pleased the public option was included in the final House version.

"This bill is not only morally right, but an imperative for working-class families" Johnson said in a press release. "When this bill becomes law, 166,000 households in my district could qualify for affordability credits if they need to purchase their own coverage, 65,000 seniors will benefit from a strengthened Medicare, 15,000 small businesses will be able to join the health insurance exchange and thousands of families could avoid bankruptcy due to catastrophic health care costs."

Johnson said the bill -- which now awaits Senate action -- will be good for small businesses, but U.S. Rep. John Linder, a Republican from Duluth, disagrees.

Like Johnson, he cited numbers in a statement about Saturday's vote, but Linder said the reform would have negative impacts.

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and President Barack Obama pushed through a bill spending $1.45 trillion, creating 111 new Federal departments, commissions, programs, and bureaucracies, raising taxes by $743 billion, cutting Medicare by $426 billion, expanding health care for 2.5 million illegal immigrants, and swelling the ranks of taxpayer-provided Medicaid by 15 million people. Through threat and intimidation, the Speaker and the President forced House Democrats to vote for a massive government take-over of health care.

"Instead of looking to the future and ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to own and control their own health care, the Democrat-led House of Representatives ignored the voices of the American people and passed PelosiCare. Though she may have won this battle, the war is not over, and I will continue to fight PelosiCare for the rest of the 111th Congress."

Saturday's vote on the bill caused Linder to cancel his plans to speak at the Gwinnett Republican Party's breakfast. But the congressman is expected to attend the party's Christmas and Hanukkah brunch. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 12 at the Summit Chase Country Club in Snellville. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.