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Legislators want to step in on open heart issue

Gwinnett legislators may step in to a debate on allowing open-heart surgery at a Lawrenceville hospital.

Rep. Clay Cox, who heads the county's House delegation at the General Assembly, called a meeting for Sept. 14 to talk about the issue, which is on hold after two hospitals filed lawsuits to stop the proposed program at Gwinnett Medical Center.

"I think our delegation is united," Cox said. "It is absurd that in Gwinnett, a county of 800,000, I have to drive downtown to get open-heart surgery. ... It's something that Gwinnett County is entitled to."

For the past two sessions, the legislators have written letters supporting the initiative. Cox said the leaders wanted to brainstorm to see if there was anything else they could do.

Representatives from the hospitals as well as constituents are invited to the 10 a.m. session at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, has also spoken out for the proposal.

"Emory's argument that Gwinnett residents already have adequate access to open-heart programs may very well have been true 30 years ago, but after decades of growth it is no longer feasible to reach one of these hospitals safely in a 30-minute window," he said. "Area drivers know that it can often take hours to navigate metro Atlanta traffic and these are precious moments for someone who is experiencing a heart attack. When you are dealing with a medical emergency, it is imperative that time is on your side."

Town hall meeting

Don't forget. Today is your chance to speak out on health care.

U.S. Rep. John Linder is hosting a town hall meeting on the subject from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at North Gwinnett High School.

Linder and Cobb's U.S. Rep. Tom Price will discuss the Democrat's proposed reform bill, as well as an alternative Price authored and Linder has co-sponsored.