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Health-care town hall meeting planned
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Locals who want to learn more about the new Affordable Care Act can attend a town hall from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at the Newton College and Career Academy, 144 Ram Drive, Covington.

The event will feature three area professionals, who will give a presentation about how the law will affect various groups of consumers, help attendees learn how to navigate the federal health-care exchange website, and answer questions from the audience.

One of the speakers will be Whitney Horton, a field organizer with Enroll America, a self-described "non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading information and awareness about the Affordable Care Act," with an emphasis on maximizing coverage for uninsured Americans. Horton graduated from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University with a degree in public policy, and has been working with Enroll America’s "Get Covered America" campaign since September 2013.

A second speaker is Amir Jones of the Georgia-based The Health Initiative, a nonprofit formed in 1996 with the goal of providing "education, advocacy, support and improved access to care to Georgia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.’’ Jones has specifically worked with the Community Health Fund, which serves underinsured and uninsured members of the LGBT community. The third speaker is Deborah Murray, an associate dean in the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Prior to her current position, Murray was the associate director of the University of Kentucky’s Health Education through Extension Leadership program and also served in the university’s cooperative extension service, where she worked with 4-H county agents.

The town hall is being organized by state representative Pam Dickerson (D-Conyers) and Newton County commissioners Lanier Sims and Nancy Schulz. Sims said constituents kept asking him questions about health-care reform, and he didn’t have any answers.

"(The town hall) was really spurred by people asking questions, and nobody really knows the truth. We’re trying to get more info," Sims said. "The biggest part is the question-and-answer session to have professionals on hand to answer questions.

"There is a lot of misinformation out there, and regardless of how you feel about the health care act, it’s coming."

After the town hall, Dickerson, Sims and Schulz will give updates on their districts and any current happenings.

The town hall is being sponsored by the elected officials, the Chi Tau Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the NAACP and DualDeko, the marketing and design firm owned by Sims.