Jeff Emanuel

Charlie Norwood, six-term GOP Representative from Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, passed away at his Augusta, GA home this Tuesday. The ailing Congressman’s death came only days after he declined further medical treatment in Washington for non-small-cell lung cancer, and returned home to hospice care, and to be with his family in the last days of his life.

Norwood had also battled idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) for years, being diagnosed with the condition in 1998 and receiving a lung transplant in 2004 as treatment.

A member of the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” the sixty-five year old Congressman worked tirelessly on several issues of importance both to his state and to the nation. An Army veteran himself, with two Bronze Stars earned in Vietnam, he spearheaded the effort to secure full medical coverage for military retirees, co-authoring the Keep Our Promises to Military Retirees Act. He also worked with the Governor of Georgia on a plan to preserve federal funding in support of Georgia’s State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP), also known as “Peach Care,” and fought for other comprehensive healthcare reform measures.

Norwood did his part to represent Americans across the political and economic spectrum. He championed the needs of individuals, such as special needs students, for whom he authored the Discipline Reform Amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and he also worked to improve industries, like broadcast television, for which he authored Community Broadcasting Protection Act.

Norwood’s congressional legacy was set up to live on in the 110th Congress with the reintroduction Monday of his signature legislation, the “Patient’s Bill of Rights.” Known as the “Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act of 2007” and co-sponsored by Democrat David Dingell of Michigan, this legislation, if passed, would reinstate the rights of medical patients to sue federally-governed health plans in state court for injury or death-causing medical decisions and improper denials of care – an ability lost to the public with the 1974 passage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).Shortly before his death, Norwood wrote that, given the leadership positions of several Democrats who had in the past supported the Patient’s Bill of Rights, there was “no reason” that the 110th Congress couldn’t “pass the original, un-compromised bill with a veto-proof majority.”

“At the last poll,” he concluded, “the Patient’s Bill of Rights had an 82% public approval rating. If the Democrats can use their new majority to pull that off, they will and should score big with the public.”

Jeff Emanuel

Jeff Emanuel, a Special Operations military veteran, is a Leadership fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia, where he also studies Classics. In addition, he is a contributing editor for conservative web log, and is a columnist for the Athens, GA Banner-Herald newspaper.

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