In Georgia — where state officials say 60 counties have no pediatrician, 76 counties have no obstetrician-gynecologist and nine counties have no doctor at all — frustration over access to health care is apparent. Even in reliably conservative strongholds, some say they’re ready to ditch a system built on private insurance.
When 10 Democratic presidential candidates gather Wednesday on an Atlanta stage, the topic is sure to come up, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” proposals to more moderate candidates’ plans to forge a government-run option while letting people keep private insurance they like.
Among those watching the conversation closely will be David Broad, a sociology professor at the University of North Georgia, and Marisa Pyle, a 21-year-old with an autoimmune disease. Both residents of rural Lumpkin County, Georgia — about 70 miles north of Atlanta — have struggled in recent years to secure the health care they need and want using insurance options available in today’s market.
Beyond broad ideas, both want details about Democrats’ plans for a more universal option. They also want to know how the candidates would turn their health care campaign promises into reality.
A self-described fiscal conservative who has always voted along Republican Party lines, Broad is one of several thousand people in Lumpkin County whose providers fell out of their insurance network at the end of September, when a contract between Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield and Northeast Georgia Hospital System expired. The sides have yet to come to an agreement.