Your opinions: Jan. 30, 2016

Published 5:27 pm Monday, February 1, 2016

Urges state to repeal or modify military rule
I urge you to take action to repeal or greatly modify the unfair “Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act” (P.L. 97-252 and amendments). Military members are the only U.S. citizens who have a separate divorce law which, in effect, awards for life a portion of the military member’s retirement pay to an ex-spouse regardless of fault or circumstances-or the duration of the marriage. While the law does not mandate a judge must award a portion of the retirement pay, precedent has caused this result to become fact, and the award to an ex-spouse during a divorce proceeding has become automatic. Frankly, the law has come to victimize those who serve. As a member of the Air Force Sergeant’s Association, which represents all current and former Air Force members, I see this as a legislative priority that deserves your leadership and your action.
At a minimum, I urge you to support an immediate change to three aspects of this law. First, base any award of a portion of the member’s retirement pay on the member’s rank at the time of the divorce-not many years later when he or she actually retires. Second, terminate any award to an ex-spouse when the ex-spouse remarries. Finally, limit any award to a former spouse to no longer than the duration of the failed marriage. Military members should be treated like every other U.S. citizen with the award on a case-by-case basis-not an automatic award (which is what this unfair law has become.
I urge you to introduce legislation to repeal or, at least, greatly modify this unfair law. As a voter and one of your constituents, I respectfully request a response to this letter so that I can understand where you stand on this issue.
Franklin A. Yawn
Bonaire, Ga.

Asks Governor to correct an injustice
Georgia has hundreds of thousands of the working poor who fall in the gap between making too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid but not enough to participate in the federal healthcare exchange. Medicaid expansion was designed to provide a safety net for these low income citizens. However, Georgia’s political leaders have refused to expand Medicaid even though it is initially 100% federally funded, gradually reducing to 90%.
Governor Deal defended his decision not to expand Medicaid by saying it would cost over $200 million in FY 2017. This amount pales in comparison to the $6 billion in federal funds that would have come to Georgia for Medicaid expansion. These funds would have provided a safety net for those financially unable to buy unsubsidized health insurance. They would have created thousands of jobs and improved the financial health of hospitals.
While the Governor is unwilling to expand Medicaid for the working poor, he is willing to budget taxpayer dollars to subsidize health insurance for state elected officials, state employees, teachers and retirees. He pushed for and received federal funds for expansion at the Port of Savannah,(a good thing) and for other initiatives. Even Governor Perdue accepted federal stimulus funds because they would help struggling Georgians.
In my opinion, it is inevitable that sooner or later something, under whatever name, will be done to provide access to healthcare for the working poor. In the meantime, as partisan politics continues, an untold number of preventable illnesses and deaths will occur. I urge the Governor and legislature to correct this injustice during the current legislative session. Although the Governor will be a lame duck in two years, every seat in the legislature will be on the ballot in 2016 and again in 2018.
Robert A. Clay