Congressman Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, is used to being around medical paraphernalia. The former obstetrician-gynecologist is now working to address medical problems of a different sort.
Gingrey, who represents the 11th Congressional District which neighbors the district that includes Whitfield and Murray counties, visited Hamilton Medical Center Tuesday as one of several stops in North Georgia while Congress is in recess this month. Gingrey also planned to visit Fort Oglethorpe, Ringgold, Jasper, Dahlonega and Rome as well as McDonough and Newnan further south.
Gingrey toured the lab at Hamilton Medical Center, saying that refreshing his memory and learning more about how things operate helps give him a better perspective back in Congress. Gingrey said he is against many of the principles in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and wants to replace it with a different set of regulations.
“The American people for the most part are still unhappy with that,” he said of the federal law that is still being implemented. “They don’t like any interference with the doctor-nurse-patient relationship. They don’t feel, and I don’t feel, that you can treat a person’s health and indeed their very lives like it’s just some commodity in any other business. There’s a certain art to that. So we feel very strongly that we need to lower the cost of health care, we need to make if available to everybody, whether it’s Medicare or Medicaid for the poor or affordable health insurance for people that are out there either working for themselves or working for some big company. But it can be done in a much better way than this so called Affordable — or I call it the ‘Unaffordable Care Act.’”
Gingrey is also campaigning for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ seat. Chambliss retires in 2014.
“I think it should be a market-driven health care system where patients own their own health insurance policies, they’re not necessarily tied to a job,” Gingrey said. “... Medical liability insurance reform is something President Obama promised when he was campaigning. Absolutely, I would be in favor of that. In fact, I’ve introduced that particular bill in Congress about five different times. It always passes the House, but we have not been able to get it through the Senate. But we will continue to work on that, and I will continue to work to try to replace Obamacare with a market-driven health care approach.”
Dr. Kathryn Knight, medical director of the laboratory at Hamilton, said having someone in Gingrey’s position visit the hospital is valuable. Knight and other staff members spoke with the congressman during the visit to voice concerns about proposed funding cuts from the government office that oversees Medicare and Medicaid as well as other ongoing regulatory issues.
Knight said some people forget how important medical lab work is in health care.
“The laboratory is only approximately 3 percent of the total cost of the health system, but the data that comes from the laboratory leads to approximately 70 percent of clinical decision-making.”
Knight said several other political leaders have visited the lab in recent years, including then-congressman Nathan Deal, and congressmen Tom Graves and Tom Price and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.