GRIFFIN, Ga. — Republican gubernatorial challenger David Pennington said a key to his plans to cut state spending is a constitutional amendment limiting how much a person can get from doctors and hospitals for medical mistakes.
Pennington, the mayor of Dalton, also blasted Gov. Nathan Deal during Thursday night’s Spalding GOP meeting for “cozying up” with attorneys whose career is devoted to suing medical providers and businesses. The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association held a fundraising luncheon for Deal last month at a plush hotel near the Governor’s Mansion.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in America where the trial attorneys of any state have endorsed a Republican governor,” Pennington said.
Pennington, who is hoping to defeat Deal in the May 20 primary, is basing much of his campaign on a pledge to trim the state income tax 33 percent by cutting expenditures. He noted that healthcare in the form of Medicaid and insurance for state workers and teachers is one of the state’s largest areas of spending.
Limiting lawsuits known as torts would encourage more doctors to practice here and bring down treatment costs, saving patients and employers like the state premium dollars, he argued. But a 2005 tort-reform law has largely been dismantled by the Georgia Supreme Court as being unconstitutional, which is why Pennington said a constitutional amendment is needed.
Also speaking at the event was Nancy Jester, a former DeKalb County school board member running for state superintendent to succeed John Barge who is also challenging Deal. Jester didn’t specifically cite Barge, but she said the state doesn’t follow its own rules in an effort to shelter administrators from budget cuts and accountability.
“We’ve had the various bureaucrats who do not have the best interests of kids and taxpayers basically in the role of state school superintendent, and we’ve seen what we’ve gotten from that,” she said. “We’ve basically been running sort of a protection scheme for bureaucrats around the state, and that has to stop.”
In addition to Jester, four others are also seeking the GOP nomination for superintendent, including Fitz Johnson, Matt Schultz, Kira Willis and Richard Woods.