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Local health care talk turns lively
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Forsyth County News

Health care reform is going to happen, the director of the Center for Health Services Research told attendees at a local summit on the issue.

“The question is just what, not when,” William Custer said. “We are going to be talking about health care reform until it happens because our system is eroding.”

Custer discussed the history and future of health care Thursday with a crowd of about 100 at the State of Healthcare in Forsyth County: A Healthcare Summit.

The event was sponsored by the Healthcare Association of Forsyth County, a Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce initiative.

Custer, who is also an associate professor at Georgia State University, addressed health care under the past three presidential administrations, ending with the current debate in Congress.

After his remarks, Northside Hospital-Forsyth administrator Lynn Jackson noted that several county and state officials, as well as congressional candidates were in attendance.

She said different perspectives like Custer’s are good for elected officials to hear.

“It was everything I hoped for because it went from the global perspective down to how this would affect Forsyth County and businesses ... and providers in Forsyth County,” said Jackson, who also serves as health care association president.

“He gave us some good education about the terms being used, the ideas and the mandates ... so I think it was helpful.”

About 1.6 million Georgians are uninsured, Custer said. But patients are treated regardless of whether they have insurance, which puts the burden on the insured through taxes and premiums.

That burden is even greater in Forsyth, where the average income is about $20,000 higher than the state’s average of $49,000.

Custer talked about how reform could impact county employers, noting those who employ more than 100 workers wouldn’t notice much of a difference.

For about 22,000 Forsyth residents who are uninsured, reform could likely offer coverage.

While Custer was able to discuss in broad terms the pros and cons of reform, he said the devil really is in the details.

“Some of these details, to me, are just not important," he said. "And a lot of the argument we’re hearing is on things that don’t matter. You can create a market or you can destroy one, depending upon how these details go.”