Tuesday January 25th, 2022 6:01PM

Habersham Co. man, Buford state lawmaker named to new health benefits panel

By Staff
ATLANTA - Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston have announced the full list of appointments to the Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits. The group's organizational meeting will be Tuesday, March 12.

The members of the commission include state Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford and Stephen Gray of Baldwin, an executive vice president with Fieldale Farms.

"The mandated benefit commission serves an important role of developing cost-benefit examinations for proposed health insurance mandates," said Deal. "Unfortunately, the current health insurance market is largely unpredictable because of the changes required by Obamacare. It is important to analyze proposed mandates in light of the new laws in order to fully vet their impact both socially and financially. I am confident that the members of this commission will use their expertise in various fields to give all proposed mandates the proper consideration."

Under state law, signed by the governor, the commission is charged with evaluating the social and financial impact of current and proposed mandated benefits. Members will assess the impact of mandated benefits on employers and insurers, the impact of treatment, potential costs or cost savings and other appropriate information and from there they will advise the governor and the General Assembly.

"As health insurance premiums continue to increase for families and employers, it is important that we carefully consider any new requirements placed upon the fully insured health plans and how they would affect and protect consumers, the marketplace and future health care costs," said Ralston. "The appointees of this commission have the necessary backgrounds and expertise to weigh the benefits and costs of the various mandated health insurance benefit proposals that come before the General Assembly. Both Rep. Watson and Rep. Smith, the House appointees, will be key in these efforts."

"With the ongoing implementation of Obamacare, the market for health insurance is rapidly changing and evolving," Cagle said. "Members of this commission have the very important task of researching and evaluating new mandates from the federal government and determining the impact they may have. I'm confident that this commission has the expertise necessary to help Georgians understand and adapt to these new federal mandates."

Commission members are as follows:

Governor's appointments:

William A. Bornstein
Bornstein is the chief quality and medical officer of Emory Healthcare. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Endocrinology and Metabolism. He earned his bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Dartmouth College and medical degree and doctorate of philosophy in Cell and Molecular Biology from the Medical College of Georgia. He and his wife, Sherri, have two daughters. They reside in Atlanta.

Harry S. Strothers
Strothers is a chairman and a professor in the department of Family Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University Of Maryland School of Medicine in 1982. He is board certified in family medicine, has a certificate of added qualifications in geriatrics and a certificate in medical management from the American College of Physician Executives and Tulane University. Strothers is also a past president of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians. He also served two years as the secretary-treasurer of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and two years on the Advisory Committee on Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry for the Department of Health and Human Services. He and his wife, Karen, reside in Smyrna.

James D. Fortenberry
Fortenberry is pediatrician in chief at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and professor of Pediatric Critical Care in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. He previously served as division director of Critical Care Medicine, president of CHOA's medical staff and medical director of pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. Fortenberry currently chairs CHOA's Community Physician Advisory Council. He has written or co-written more than 100 journal articles, reviews, editorials and book chapters and has been an internationally invited speaker in pediatric critical care. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia. Fortenberry and his wife, Janet, have three children. They reside in Atlanta.

R. Charles "Randy" Daniel
Daniel has been a private practice dentist in Stockbridge since 1984. He is a member of the medical staff of Henry Medical Center. Daniel is also a member of the American Dental Association, where he was made an honorable fellow and a recipient of the President's Award from the Northern District Dental Society. Daniel earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from the College of William and Mary and a dental degree from the Medical College of Virginia. He and his wife, Marcia, have two daughters. They reside in Stockbridge.

Stephen Gray
Gray is executive vice president of logistics, research and development for Fieldale Farms. In his role, he leads the transportation, supply chain management and research functions, as well as providing functional leadership for operations and marketing. He has more than 30 years of food industry experience. Gray received a bachelor's degree in Public Administration from the University of Arkansas. He and his wife, Jill, live in Baldwin and have two children and one grandchild.

Albert C. Ertel
Ertel is the chief operating officer at Alliant Health Plans. He served on the governor's committee for Health Insurance Exchanges and currently serves on the Healthcare Policy and Small Business committees with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He is an active member of the National Association of Health Underwriters and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers. Ertel received his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Western New England University. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, Emma.

J. Myron Faircloth
Faircloth is a faculty member at the School of Nursing at Valdosta State University and practices rural family medicine at G&G Family Medicine in Valdosta. He earned a bachelor's degree in Nursing from Valdosta State University, a master's degree in Nursing with a family nurse practitioner concentration from Brenau University, and in 2011, he earned his doctor of Nursing Practice from Georgia Southern University. Faircloth is nationally certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. He is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Golden Key International Honour Society and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty. He resides in Hahira.

Frederick Lambert Hooper, III
Hooper is chief counsel for Shaw Industries Group, Inc. where he directs the legal and corporate compliance departments. He is currently chair of the Dalton/Whitfield County Archway Partnership with the University System of Georgia. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. Hooper and his wife, Sandee, have three children. They reside in Dalton.

Steven M. Wilson
Wilson currently practices optometry in Valdosta. Prior to opening the practice, he worked at Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand. He currently serves on the board at Valwood School and Temple Israel and is a member of the American Optometric Associations. Wilson attended Valdosta State University, the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Optometry. He and his wife, Patricia, have two children. They reside in Valdosta.

James J. Rush, Jr., Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits
Rush is the chief integrity officer for the Georgia Regents enterprise. Prior to that, he was the director of risk management for the Georgia Regents Medical Center. Before moving to Georgia, Rush was the director of patient care regulation for the Connecticut Hospital Association and an associate with Montstream and May, LLP. He earned a bachelor's degree from Fordham University and a law degree from Pace University. He and his wife, Patricia, have three children. They reside in Martinez.

Tripp Strickland, Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits
Strickland is president of Georgia Metals, Inc., a managing partner of Madison County Ace Hardware and the Hampton House Assisted Living Facility. He serves on the Madison County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, the Danielsville D.D.A., and as a deacon at Moon's Grove Baptist Church. Strickland earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia. He and his wife have two children. They reside in Danielsville.

Roy "Reg" Gilbreath, Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits
Gilbreath is vice president and chief medical officer for the DeKalb Regional Health System. He was formerly chief medical officer at Gwinnett Hospital System, chief quality officer at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, and vice president of medical affairs at Georgetown Hospital System. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida, a medical degree from the University of Miami, and a master's degree from the University of Nevada Reno. Gilbreath has one daughter, and he resides in Atlanta.

Robert Fitzgerald, Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits
Fitzgerald is president of Robert Fitzgerald Insurance Agency. He is an independent agent serving the health insurance marketplace. Fitzgerald is a past president of the Georgia Association of Health Underwriters and currently serves on the Medicare Board of Advisors to the National Association of Health Underwriters. He and his wife, Terry, have three grown children. They reside in Marietta.

Trip Addison
Addison is currently the deputy director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget. Before joining OPB, he served as Gov. Deal's policy adviser for economic development. Prior to work in state government, Addison worked on Deal's campaign for governor and was also a part of his Transition Team. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Georgia Southern University. He and his wife, Ashley, reside in Atlanta.

Lt. Gov.'s appointments:

Sen. Tim Golden (R-Valdosta)
Golden, of the 8th Senate District, was first elected to the Georgia State Senate in 1999. He is now serving in his seventh term. He is the chairman of the Senate Insurance & Labor Committee and serves on the Administrative Affairs, Appropriations, Finance and Higher Education committees.

Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford)
Unterman, of the 45th Senate District, was first elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2003. She is now serving in her fifth term. She is the chairwoman of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee and serves on the Administrative Affairs, Appropriations, Assignments, Insurance & Labor and Rules committees.

Speaker's appointments:

Rep. Richard H. Smith (R-Columbus)
Smith, of the 134th House District, was first elected in 2004 to the Georgia House of Representatives. He is currently serving in his fifth term. He is the chairman of the House Insurance Committee and serves on the Appropriations, Natural Resources and Environment, Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment and Rules committees.

Rep. Ben Watson (R-Savannah)
Watson, of the 166th House District, was elected in 2011 to the Georgia House of Representatives and is now serving in his second term. He is the vice chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee and serves on the Appropriations, Higher Education and Science & Technology committees.

Ex-Officio Members:
Commissioner David Cook, Georgia Department of Community Health
Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, Georgia Department of Insurance
Commissioner Mark Butler, Georgia Department of Labor
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