Patients find fewer doctors, hospitals to choose from | www.myajc.com

The cancer had already spread to her abdomen by the time Beth Brock managed to escape from her health insurance nightmare.

The Woodstock business owner learned last fall her insurance didn’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s new standards, so she reluctantly chose a different health plan that her doctors assured her they accepted. But they didn’t.

Brock, 48, was waiting at her OB/GYN for a pre-surgical visit — the last step before an operation to remove an ovarian cyst — when the billing office called to say it didn’t accept her new plan after all. It would be two months before she untangled the mess and switched to a health plan that covered a broader array of doctors. By then, the cyst had grown from slightly larger than a walnut to bigger than a softball.

“I had lost all that time,” said Brock, who is undergoing chemotherapy. “If (the surgeon) could have operated on me in January … it wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow huge and spread.”

Her chance of living for another five years is 40 percent.

Nearly nine months after the scrambled launch of the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, some Georgians have been shocked and dismayed to find their new insurance plans offer far fewer doctors, specialists and hospitals to choose from than they’ve come to expect.

via Patients find fewer doctors, hospitals to choose from | www.myajc.com.

DeKalb Ethics Board filled out amid inquiries | www.myajc.com

DeKalb County CEO Lee May restored the county Board of Ethics to full strength Friday, replacing an inactive member as the board investigates several complaints against county commissioners and employees.

May appointed Robert Blackman, a Vietnam War veteran and a member of the county Code Enforcement Advisory Committee, to replace board member Isaac Blythers, whose term expired Dec. 31.

Blackman’s addition to the board gives it another potential vote as it decides whether to take action on pending cases involving three commissioners, several employees and former DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, who faces trial in September on charges that he strong-armed county vendors into giving campaign contributions.

The seven-member Ethics Board needs five votes to reprimand, suspend or remove officials from office.

Ethics cases are pending against Commissioners Elaine Boyer, Larry Johnson and Sharon Barnes Sutton based on complaints that they used their county purchasing cards to buy personal items.

via DeKalb Ethics Board filled out amid inquiries | www.myajc.com.

City properties gain ‘phenomenal’ value in DeKalb County | www.ajc.com

Properties in DeKalb County’s cities are gaining far more value than those in unincorporated areas, according to the county’s mid-year budget.

The taxable value of city properties is expected to increase 13.1 percent this year, while the taxable value of unincorporated properties is up only 0.6 percent. Countywide, taxable property values are growing 5.9 percent this year.

via City properties gain ‘phenomenal’ value in DeKalb County | www.ajc.com.

Lee fails to sway Cobb commissioners on transit line | www.myajc.com

Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee made an impassioned plea Friday for the county’s political leadership to support the $500 million bus rapid transit system and to fund part of its cost with a proposed special purpose sales tax.

That appeal seemed to largely fall flat.

After the meeting of commissioners and mayors, all four district commissioners said they would not support including $100 million for the transit system on the list of projects for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. That money is needed as a local match to qualify for a federal grant that could provide up to $250 million for the project.

Only commissioners can vote on which projects to include in the upcoming SPLOST, to be voted on in November.

Faye DiMassimo, the county’s transportation director, has said that the transit project was dead without the SPLOST funding.

via Lee fails to sway Cobb commissioners on transit line | www.myajc.com.

County, mayors agree on six-year SPLOST | www.ajc.com

There seems to be consensus among Cobb County commissioners and the mayors in the county’s six cities on putting a six-year Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum in front of voters Nov. 4.

Cobb Chairman Tim Lee called a special meeting between the commission and mayors Friday morning. No official vote was taken or needed, but Lee asked the mayors if anyone objected to the six-year sales tax referendum and no one objected. The tax would raise $750 million.

“All assumptions are that this SPLOST would be six years,” Lee said. “Unless I hear otherwise, I’ll continue with that assumption.”

via County, mayors agree on six-year SPLOST | www.ajc.com.

Georgia Right to Life announces new national organization, endorsements | Gwinnett Daily Post

Georgia Right to Life is creating a new national affiliate, three months after losing its connection to National Right to Life.

The Gwinnett-based group’s president Daniel Becker announced the formation of the National Personhood Alliance, “a confederation of faith-based, pro-life organizations and leaders who believe pursuing Personhood is essential to protecting all innocent human beings in the 21st century.”

“The focus of NPA will differ from most national pro-life groups,” Becker said. “The general consensus of many in the movement is that it’s time for a fresh strategy for ending the disregard for innocent human life. We intend to be ‘standard-bearers’ as opposed to ‘king-makers.’ This will require the application, politically and legislatively, of a higher standard than is currently embraced by most national pro-life groups today.”

Becker said, “There has been an overwhelming call from many within the movement to form a new national pro-life group which will represent us on Capitol Hill.”

A press release said the organization will become official at an October convention in Atlanta, with representatives from existing pro-life organizations and leaders from across the country invited to attend.

“The pro-life movement is more than 40 years old,” Becker said. “From its inception in the late 1960s, the focus has primarily been on ending abortion. Our concern must be expanded to encompass the dignity and value of each human being at any developmental stage through natural death.

via Georgia Right to Life announces new national organization, endorsements | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Settlement reached in Snellville mayor vs. council trial | Gwinnett Daily Post

Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz will appoint a new city clerk and City Manager Butch Sanders will keep his job, according to a settlement reached Friday evening between the mayor and city council.

Both the council and mayor described the compromise as a win but said it may do little to repair internal struggles that lead to the lawsuit after the council approved a new contract with the city manager over Kautz’s objections and Kautz appointed a new city clerk without council’s approval.

“We’ve got some mending to do,” Kautz said. “We’re going to take it from this day forward. … This settlement is worth it to save the taxpayers’ money,” she said of the possibility of thousands of dollars in appeals costs.

“We’re glad it’s over,” said Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts, who said he was disheartened by the “collateral damage” of the case in the loss of Melisa Arnold, a 24-year employee who resigned as the city clerk during the first week of the trial.

“This time the city ate one of its own,” said attorney Laurel Henderson, who said Arnold has not yet decided if she will sue. “She has been absolutely destroyed by the experience. … I think she has been very poorly served by her employer.”

via Settlement reached in Snellville mayor vs. council trial | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Why Google, AT&T fast Internet might skip your city | www.myajc.com

If you live in one of 18 metro Atlanta cities, Internet connections 100 times faster than most American homes have may be coming your way soon.

Government officials and community activists are confused about how candidate cities were selected. They worry that unpicked cities will suffer more than bruised egos, becoming less competitive for jobs and residents. And some are looking for other ways to get fast fiber.

Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres said the company first choose promising metro areas with a drive for technology and fast network connections. Then, within each area, its primary driver was to focus on the core city and the closest communities. An area’s income or racial makeup “didn’t play a role at all,” she told the AJC.

Fiber expansion is costly and will take years to complete, Wandres said. “We had to draw the line somewhere.”

“What about us?” asks Elmer Veith, who lives in a newly annexed portion of Chamblee, which isn’t on Google’s list.

But Brookhaven, which is across the street from Veith’s neighborhood, is. So is Sandy Springs, much of which is outside the Perimeter, unlike Chamblee.

via Why Google, AT&T fast Internet might skip your city | www.myajc.com.