While U.S. House Democrats are scrambling to find the final few votes needed to pass the health care reform bill, Georgia Representative John Barrow said he plans to vote against the proposed plan.
The Democratic Congressman from Savannah said earlier in the week he was undecided on the issue and that he would wait to see the complete text of the reconciliation bill before deciding which way to vote. In a statement released Friday afternoon, Barrow said he will not support the bill that will be voted on by the U.S. House this Sunday.
"I am strongly in favor of reforming the health care system, but I don't think this bill is going to do it, and therefore I can't support it," Barrow said. "It puts too much of the burden of paying for it on working folks who are already being overcharged, and that's not fair. It threatens to overwhelm Medicaid in Georgia, and that's not right. And it barely touches the insurance companies, and that's not smart. We can do better and I'm ready to start."
Barrow is in his third term as representative for Georgia's 12th District, which covers 22 counties in southeast Georgia including Savannah, parts of Augusta and Bulloch County. Despite its Democratic representative, the district is fairly balanced politically and has a Cook's Partisan Voting Index rating of "D+1." The index averages the voting results of the congressional district from the prior two presidential elections and compares them to the national results. The CPVI score of "D+1" shows the district voted one percent more Democratic than the national average.
A small group of Bulloch County Tea Party activists and Republican challenger for Barrow's seat, Carl Smith, were planning to travel to Washington, D.C., with the hope of convincing the representative to vote against the measure. Despite Barrow's announcement, the group still plans to go and try to convince the remaining undecided representatives to vote against the measure.
"We're still going up there to do what we can to work on the couple (of representatives) that are left - whatever we can do," Smith said. "Apparently (bill supporters) are still very close to pulling it out, so we can't take it for granted at this point."
Smith has been the fire chief in Thunderbolt, Ga., for the past 16 years.