Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What have Republicans done for Georgia lately?

Sonny Perdue and the Republican controlled legislature have produced about the same results for you as the Republicans have in Washington. For poor Americans, they're doing nothing more than giving misery a little more company. This AP article says that both Georgia's poverty rate and its number of uninsured citizens have increased - yet again. This continues a steady trend, under Perdue, of moving Georgia further and further away from the national poverty average.

From the Macon Telegraph:

Georgia's poverty rate, number without health insurance rise
Associated Press

ATLANTA - Georgia's poverty rate, along with the number of people without health insurance, have both gone up, according to recent Census Bureau data.
The increases are among the fastest in the country, according to the Census Bureau, which released the information Tuesday.

In 2005, an estimated 1.7 million Georgians were uninsured, up from 1.5 million the year before, according to a Census Bureau survey. Georgia was one of eight states whose two-year rolling average of uninsured rose. The state's two-year average climbed to 18.1 percent uninsured in 2004-2005, from 16.9 percent in 2003-2004.

That figure leaves Georgia tied for eighth among states with the highest rate of people without health insurance.

The state's increase "is a pretty big jump - a significant increase," said Bill Custer, a Georgia State University health insurance expert.

Meanwhile, Georgia's poverty rate rose last year to 14.4 percent, its third consecutive increase since 2002, when it had fell to 11.2 percent, according to census numbers. Nationally, the poverty rate was 12.6 percent, the first year since 2000 that the poverty rate did not grow.

These results seem consistent with national trends during the George W. Bush administration.
The Progress Report paints this less than rosey picture:

The numbers "mark the worst performance in recent decades for poverty and median income during an economic recovery." The Bush administration "dropped the ball entirely" on poverty since the issue "forced its way to the top of President Bush's agenda in the confusing days after Hurricane Katrina." ("Does [President Bush] often talk about poverty? No," Tony Snow admitted recently.) But in a "sign that the income inequality may rise higher on the US policy agenda," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson admitted this month that "many Americans simply aren't feeling the benefits" of economic expansion. Now it's time for Bush to take action.

And on health care:

Since 2000, the Bush administration has created three times as many uninsured Americans as new jobs: six million uninsured versus 1.9 million new jobs between 2000 and 2005. The cost of employer-based insurance increased 9.2 percent in 2005 as hourly earnings climbed by only 3.2 percent. The average costs of providing medical care for a family of four rose 9.6 percent. The Commonwealth Fund found 50 percent of families earning less than $35,000 a year reported having trouble paying medical bills. (The percentages are similar for families earning $35,000 to $49,000, making it more likely medical costs could drive them into poverty.) Ninety-five percent of companies polled by benefits consultants Watson Wyatt expect to restrict health benefits for retirees in the next five years. And recently, the administration angered governors by announcing plans to "cut Medicaid payments to hospitals and nursing homes that care for millions of low-income people." The administration's focus has been on health savings accounts (HSAs) and Association Health Plans (AHPs), proposals that "will not begin to solve the problems of the 46 million Americans without health insurance" and "will cause new dilemmas for those fortunate enough to have health care coverage." "We've had absolutely no federal effort or interest in insuring the uninsured since 2000," Emory University's Ken Thorpe said. "This has not been a priority of the Bush administration." To fill the void, states are working to provide comprehensive health care coverage.

So when Republicans like Sonny Perdue and Casey Cagle come around asking you for your vote this fall, remember the poor people of this state and country. And if you're hovering around the poverty line, remember, you might be next.

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