Fox News: Kemp’s Refusal to Suspend Gas Tax Through End of Year Would Impact Rural Georgians’ Health Care

June 15, 2022

As Stacey Abrams calls on Brian Kemp to suspend the state gas tax through the end of the year, a Georgia doctor is sounding the alarm about challenges that rural Georgia communities will continue to face in accessing crucial health care services if Kemp does not take action. Dr. Randolph Bishop, who practices in Savannah, joined Fox & Friends on Tuesday to warn that the most vulnerable would continue to be the most impacted by Brian Kemp’s refusal to extend a suspension of the state gas tax through the end of the year, which would help provide lower prices and stability for working Georgians impacted by rising fuel costs.

Kemp has also consistently blocked Medicaid expansion in Georgia, which denies health coverage to over 500,000 people and keeps health costs higher across the board. Expanding Medicaid would have also provided much-needed support for rural hospitals that have closed, like Lower Oconee Community Hospital (Glenwood, GA) and Charlton Memorial Hospital (Folkston, GA), both in the general areas that Dr. Bishop’s patients travel from.

Context: After Stacey Abrams called on Brian Kemp to suspend the state gas tax through the end of the year to help hardworking Georgians in the long term, the governor still hasn’t committed to action. Instead, Kemp’s allies are scrambling to claim credit for the policy even while the governor refuses to extend the gas tax suspension, saying it “can only last for so long.” The result? Georgia families could continue facing higher costs and uncertainty through the end of the year.

Fox News: Georgia neurosurgeon sounds alarm on gas prices: Rural patients may have to choose ‘health care or livelihood’

  • Fox & Friends Co-Host Ainsley Earhardt: “Rural Americans are finding it harder to travel to nearby towns even for their medical reasons. Our next guest is a neurosurgeon who says many patients are canceling their appointments because they can’t afford the trip into town. Dr. Randolph Bishop joins us now…How is this affecting your patients?”
  • Dr. Randolph Bishop: “…as a neurosurgeon, working in a tertiary referral center, I’d heard a lot of stories from patients that were really unable to make it to their appointments just because they can’t afford the cost of the round trip of gas. So for instance, patients that are coming for cardiac care, neurosurgery or cancer care in tertiary care centers, usually requires multiple trips back and forth to see the doctor….and most of these patients are really vulnerable patients, they’re patients that need tertiary care services, and they really can’t get the doctor and the barriers not because they don’t have doctors willing to see them, you just can’t get there any longer.”
  • Dr. Randolph Bishop: “And when you’re on social security benefits, your salary you know, you might get $1,600 a month and benefits and out of that. You have to budget…but you also have to make a decision on really your healthcare, your livelihood, really, and it’s an unfortunate problem because I think the people that are driving a lot of policy don’t see what this looks like down the road. Where the people that are the most poor, the most in need of help are the ones that are having to bear the brunt of these high gas prices.”
  • Fox & Friends Co-Host Ainsley Earhardt: “So, you’re saying in some of these cases, they have to risk their lives in order to pay their bills?”
  • Dr. Randolph Bishop: “Well, it’s a decision. I think it’s a decision you make with Grandma. Grandma has health issues and these people are proud country people for the most part. You know, half of my practice is people that drive into the Savannah area for neurosurgery care, and the decision made in the beginning of the month — do we use the money to fill up the gas? Do we buy groceries with it? And most people in their 70s or 80s might say, well, I’m not going to hurt my family or cause these things I’ll just do without. And so, that’s what I see a lot of. So in Savannah, we have a regional referral base in neurosurgery of about a million and a half people so we go west to like Vidalia, maybe as far as Valdosta, close to Atlanta, then north up to Hilton Head Charleston area and then down south to Florida. So historically, those patients have driven to Savannah for tertiary care services that not only include neurosurgery, but it’s cardiac care, cancer care, and those types of things, where…you have to go multiple times. And the barrier now is, you know, it’s not that I can’t get a doctor, I just can’t get there.”
  • Dr. Randolph Bishop: “…Grandchildren or daughters would bring their grandma to see me for spinal issues…they travel 100 miles each direction. And I would always kid that the child that brought the grandma must be the favorite grandchild and that the grandma should really, you know, buy them some Chick-fil-A on the way home, and all of a sudden they don’t have the money for the Chick-fil-A on the way home.”


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