Macon-Bibb budget hearing focuses on Medical Center funding cuts

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Several Macon-Bibb programs and services could be cut as the 2015 budget deadline draws closer.

The Macon-Bibb commissioners hosted a public hearing to hear community input on the budget Tuesday night at the Macon-Bibb Government Center.

Each resident received five minutes to speak to the board.
Topics ranged from the sheriff’s office to the para-transit system.

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"I appreciate everyone who showed up tonight to plead their case," said Commissioner Gary Bechtel.

And they certainly did.

"And it’s good to hear from them," said Bechtel.

Hundreds packed into the commissioner chambers Tuesday night.

And none more passionately than Andy Galloway, who is a former employee of the Medical Center of Central Georgia.

"We’ve done this for 30 years. We’ve had this what I refer to as the rite of Spring every year, usually with the county commission," said Galloway.

What Galloway calls the Rite of Spring went a little differently this year.

Commissioners want to cut indigent care funds–or money that provides emergency room services for people with no healthcare–completely.

"Good healthcare is basic," said Galloway. "Everything–virtually everything–that governments do in some way are important. But few more so than the provision of health services for their citizens."

Galloway couldn’t believe the commissioners wanted to cut funding.

"What we’ve said to the commission tonight and what we’ve said to them for the past 30 years is that it’s a shared responsibility and shared obligation," said Galloway.

He says Georgia law provides for the health of citizens.

"It’s fairly well codified in Georgia law that counties are responsible or the health and welfare of the their citizens," said Galloway. "And as such, virtually every other major city/county in the state, with regard to healthcare, interprets that to mean they have a responsibility for supporting indigent care."

Galloway pled his case with the commissioners, including Gary Bechtel.

"Nine commissioners, five on the finance committee, that really did not have the close ties with that particular line item that they might’ve had with others," said Bechtel.

A lot of people were there in support of the Tubman Museum as well as the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

That’s where the cut hospital funds will go.

The commissioners will make final vote on June 17th.