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News From Georgia Watch

December 15, 2016
In This Issue
How much will Vogtle cost you?
Court decision benefits consumers
Action Alert
Beth Stephens featured
Annual Leapfrog Conference
In the News
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As we prepare to spend joyful time with family and friends this holiday season, we are mindful of all the people we've worked with and on behalf of throughout the year. We are proud of our accomplishments protecting consumers from predatory lending, helping people access affordable healthcare, working to keep utility bills low and promoting access to civil justice. 

On behalf of the Georgia Watch team, I thank you for your support this year. We all look forward to our continued partnership with you in 2017 to be a powerful voice for Georgia consumers.

We wish you happy holidays and good health, happiness and prosperity in the New Year!

Liz Coyle
Executive Director
Georgia Watch speaks up for consumers on Vogtle cost overruns
In a brief filed November 13, Executive Director Liz Coyle called on the Georgia Public Service Commission to strike a better balance between Georgia Power ratepayers and shareholders in considering rising costs and increasing delays in construction of nuclear Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4. 
The Commission will decide on December 20 how much of up to $2.2 billion in increased costs should be borne by consumers. 

See "In the News" below for significant news coverage of this pending decision.
Supreme Court to hear hospital open records case 
In a win for consumers, the Georgia Supreme Court decided that it will hear oral arguments in Smith v. Northside Hospital in April 2017. Georgia Watch  filed an amicus brief  in support of the petition requesting that our state's highest court hear the case. At issue is whether certain documents related to Northside's acquisition of four privately owned physician practices should be available to the public under the Georgia Open Records Act. In their decision granting the petition, the Supreme Court indicated that they are "particularly concerned" with "whether the documents requested by Smith are 'public records' and subject to disclosure under the Georgia Open Records Act."   Read more about it in our blog>
Action Alert: Call your Senators today!  
Health Coverage at Risk

This week is a national week of action to stand up for the health care rights and protections gained over the past six years. We need YOUR help. Call Georgia Senators Isakson and Purdue at 202-224-3121 to tell them that the Affordable Care Act must be replaced before it is repealed.

What's at stake?

Any repeal of the Affordable Care Act or changes to Medicaid could leave hundreds of thousands of Georgians uninsured, in poor health, and one emergency away from financial ruin. The Affordable Care Act has allowed for numerous protections, including:
  • People can no longer be barred from coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Young adults can stay on their parent's plan until age 26.
  • There are limits on annual out-of-pocket costs and prohibitions on life-time maximums.
We have fought hard for these rights and protections, and we cannot go backwards.

Today, join the fight. Call Senators Isakson and Purdue. Both can be reached at 202-224-3121. Tell them that the ACA MUST be replaced before any repeal action is taken to ensure that consumers are protected from market volatility and to ensure that current protections remain in place. Our health is at stake. 

If you have a story about how the ACA has provided you with an important opportunity for health insurance coverage, you can share it here.
Beth Stephens featured in the CDC's Public Health Law News
Beth Stephens, our Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, is feature d in this month's Public Health Law News, which is a publication of the Public Health Law Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In the interview, Beth discusses her career evolution and the work of our Health Access Program to address issues of healthcare access, cost and safety for Georgia consumers.  Check out her interview here
Leapfrog Group Annual Conference
Last week, Georgia Watch attended The Leapfrog Group's annual conference in Washington, D.C.  Georgia Watch is a Regional Leader for this organization, which reports semi-annually on Hospital Safety Grades and the results of a voluntary annual Hospital Survey.  At this annual conference, WellStar Douglas Hospital was honored as a 2016 Top General Hospital in Georgia.  We congratulate this hospital for this achieving such a high standard for quality.  Want to do your homework about your physician or hospital? Visit our patient safety webpage to find out how.
In the News