Georgia

Dalton Daily Citizen. July 20, 2021.

Editorial: Greene must stop misleading her constituents

As a member of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene has a responsibility to tell her constituents, including the residents of Whitfield and Murray counties, the truth.

Greene, a freshman Republican House member from Rome, is not living up to that responsibility, and it is putting some of her constituents’ lives at risk.

On Monday, Greene was temporarily suspended from Twitter for tweets that violate its policy against spreading misinformation that could cause harm during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of Greene’s tweets that Twitter labeled misleading claimed the virus “is not dangerous for non-obese people and those under 65.” The Associated Press reported that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “people under 65 account for nearly 250,000 of the U.S. deaths involving COVID-19.” COVID has killed approximately 609,000 Americans.

“We took enforcement action on the account @mtgreenee for violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” the company said in an email to The Associated Press.

Greene has a history of support for the debunked QAnon and other ridiculous conspiracy theories. She had her committee assignments taken away from her because of such behavior and for other reasons. She is also making incorrect claims in response to her suspension by Twitter.

She called it “a Communist-style attack on free speech.” The fact she could make such an outrageous claim indicates that her free-speech rights are not being harmed. As a member of Congress she has many avenues to get her viewpoint out, and The Associated Press provided her just such an avenue.

Free speech? Twitter is a private company. No American citizen, including a member of Congress, has a constitutional right to be a part of Twitter, a private company, just as Twitter would have no right to tell Greene how she should have operated the CrossFit gym she once owned.

For a member of Congress to cry about a violation of free speech in this instance is a disservice to her constituents who may assume Greene knows what she is talking about because she is a member of Congress.

“Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the Silicon Valley Cartel are working hand in hand with the White House to censor Americans,” Greene said in a statement.

Greene is not being censored. She is clearly making whatever statement she wants to make whenever she wants to. She just can’t force Twitter to be open to her when she violates its rules. That seems fair.

“These Big Tech companies are doing the bidding of the Biden regime to restrict our voices and prevent the spread of any message that isn’t state-approved,” Greene said in the statement. “I will not back down.”

First, if Greene has evidence that the companies are working with the Biden administration to do what she says she should present it. But she is having no problem getting her message out. The state is not keeping her from spreading conspiracy theories or regrettably comparing mask wearing to the atrocities of the Holocaust, which Greene shamefully did.

That brings us to a second point about Greene “not backing down.”

We had hoped she had learned some lessons about the dangers of spouting extreme and incorrect views after she apologized for comparing the required wearing of safety masks in the House to the horrors of the Holocaust, when 6 million Jews and many others were killed.

But that does not appear to be the case.

If Greene wants to criticize Twitter and its decisions, then that is certainly her right. But she has a responsibility as a member of Congress to do so in a truthful way. Her constituents, many of whom adore her and wait for her statements, deserve that. We deserve better from her.

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Brunswick News. July 16, 2021.

Editorial: Solutions needed to help Georgians get mental health care access

Along with the many new negatives the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to our lives, it has also exacerbated issues that existed before we were dealing with this microscopic killer. The mental health and substance abuse crisis in Georgia is one such example.

A recent report from the nonprofit Mental Health America had Georgia rated 51st in the nation when it comes to access to mental health care. Considering the report ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia, that would put Georgia last.

The state didn’t rank particularly high in any of the other categories either. Georgia was 47th in adults with a mental illness (AMI) who were uninsured at 18.5%— nearly eight points higher than the national average. The state was 48th in adults with AMI who didn’t receive treatment (64.9%).

The numbers are especially grim if you look at Georgia’s youth who have had a major depressive episode (MDE). Georgia was 50th, nearly dead last, in youth with a MDE who didn’t receive mental health services at 70.4%. The state didn’t fare much better when it came to youth with MDE who received some consistent treatment, coming in at 48th with 19.2%.

The Governor’s Office and the General Assembly have been trying to find solutions to combat mental health care and substance abuse issues that have been problematic for some time. In 2019, before COVID-19 was a worry on anyone’s psyche, Gov. Brian Kemp formed a task force that included state lawmakers, health care professionals, mental health advocates and criminal justice officials to help tackle the issue.

That has led to some progress in the recent legislative session as the General Assembly passed laws to increase access to care via telemedicine. The bill unanimously passed prohibits requiring patients to receive in-person medical consultation before getting telemedicine services and prohibits separate insurance deductibles for telemedicine care.

That is a good start, but there is more work to do. The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt had an effect on the mental well-being of some Georgians. The level of fear and worry that comes with living in a pandemic for almost 18 months could put a strain on anyone’s mental health.

Better mental health and substance abuse care has benefits that extend beyond the person getting the treatment they need. Better access to those services could help reduce the number of people sitting in jail cells across the state considering that state Rep. Gregg Kennard, D-Lawrenceville, told Capitol Beat News Service that the biggest mental health provider in our state is the prison system.

The stats spell out how bad the problem is. Now we need solutions to solve it. Hopefully, the General Assembly and Governor’s Office has more planned for the 2022 legislative session to continue righting this wrong.

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Rome News-Tribune. July 17, 2021.

Editorial: As FMC green goes Atrium teal, we’re cautiously optimistic

The signs won’t be changing for another few months but the largest business deal in the history of Floyd County was completed this week — Floyd Medical Center is now a part of North Carolina-based Atrium Health.

We’re a little nervous for our community, yes, but it’s not a surprising match and there appears to be a lot of the deal that will work out well for both Floyd and Polk counties.

Plans for a well-funded Floyd-Polk Healthcare Foundation have been stated primarily to address medical disparities. While those needs have only been obliquely referenced up to this point by the hospital’s leadership, we’re hopeful they’ll continue to work in the areas of improving care for low-income families and the elderly.

That said, there’s no question that FMC — or whatever it will ultimately be called — President Kurt Stuenkel knows how to manage a hospital and it sounds like he has plans to grow those funds.

Next up locally is Redmond Regional Medical Center, whose deal with AdventHealth will likely be finalized next month.

While many, if not all, of the day-to-day decisions will be made locally, ultimately big decisions will be made in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Altamonte Springs, Florida.

On the surface it does appear odd that Floyd County’s two very profitable hospitals are being sold, but this is the way that industry is going. Already-massive health care systems looking to compete on an even larger scale and reap the benefits of bigger buying power.

As part of it, the smaller hospitals within those systems get the benefits of being a part of a larger buying network.

That’s good for the hospital soon to be formerly known as Floyd Medical Center, and in many ways that spells out good things for our community as well.

How’s the best way to put it... we’re cautiously optimistic.