Sally Harrell’s Senate Campaign Video Highlights Newborn Hearing Screenings

Chamblee, Ga. (Sept. 22, 2018) – September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month. In recognition, Georgia Senate District 40 Candidate and former State Rep. Sally Harrell has released two videos ( and highlighting the importance of newborn hearing screenings and their effect on Georgia families.

Today, we take newborn health screenings for granted, but when Rep. Harrell took office in 1999, only 37 percent of Georgia hospitals were screening newborns for hearing. The former executive director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies knew that had to change. With backing from pediatricians, she sponsored House Bill 717 to set up standards for statewide screenings.

Speaking from the well for the first time, Rep. Harrell told her colleagues, “Former Gov. Zell Miller grabbed the nation’s attention when he announced that every newborn would receive a classical music CD to stimulate early brain development. Unfortunately, we don’t know which infants can actually hear the music.”

She explained that if hearing loss is not detected before a newborn is discharged from the hospital, diagnosis is often delayed until the child is 2½ years of age. “Because language skills are highly developed by this age,” she said, “the window of opportunity for early intervention is lost. For some children, early diagnosis is the difference between speech and no speech.”

HB 717 passed unanimously and was a great success. Georgia soon reached its goal of screening 95 percent of newborns for hearing. Since then, thousands of Georgia families have benefited.

Carianne Muse, the mother of two children who are deaf, recently reached out to thank Harrell for her efforts and told her how important her legislation had been. Her second daughter, Ella, was born in 2009 with profound hearing loss. Early diagnosis gave her parents options for early intervention. Today, thanks to early treatment, Ella speaks without missing a beat, performs well in school, and plays guitar. “My favorite sound is a bird chirping,” she said.

“(HB717) made a huge impact on my family and many others,” her mother said. “The best thing was having an early diagnosis. Getting the diagnosis, we could get on a fast path to success. We’re incredibly grateful. I don’t think we would be where we are without this legislation.”

Harrell noted the danger if parents don’t take negative test results seriously. Failure to get early treatment can result in loss of both speech and learning ability for a child. “But if you take care of this early, you can have good outcomes,” she said.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to make sure kids don’t fall through the cracks,” Harrell said, “I’m ready to go back to the Capitol and get that work done.”

For more information on Sally Harrell’s campaign for Georgia State Senate District 40, visit


Are you ready to tell the Gold Dome that big change is coming?

I’m ready too.  I’ll tell you why.

Our community is diverse and thrives on embracing diversity. And yet, our legislators put forward legislation that threatens immigrants and makes it harder for minorities to vote.

Our community values the freedom to live our lives without discrimination. And yet, our State Senate voted to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ families who foster and adopt children in Georgia.

We cherish our children. And yet, our legislators have made it clear that they consider the murder of our children an acceptable sacrifice for their freedom to carry AR-15s — weapons of war — into schools, bars, churches, and businesses.

How has our leadership become so out-of-touch with humanity? Why do they ignore our voices when we say we want change?

Extreme partisan gerrymandering has pushed our democracy into dysfunction.

We need to take redistricting out of the hands of the legislature and into the hands of a non-partisan commission. We need to restore integrity to our elections by demanding a paper trail of our votes and making voting easier, not harder, for working people.

We must address our country’s wealth inequality by ensuring affordable housing and childcare, jobs that pay a living wage, and debt-free higher education that can be paid for with a minimum wage job.

Every single K – 12 school needs the resources to provide a safe, quality education no matter the neighborhood it serves.

We need to expand Medicaid to include more families, and create a public option buy-in that allows anyone to purchase government healthcare when the cost of their private policy jeopardizes their financial well-being.

We need to end the War on Drugs, decriminalize marijuana, and stop the gravy train for for-profit prisons by rolling back mass incarceration.

We need leaders who will call out systemic racism, and work to address inequalities.

We need leaders who will say that Black Lives Matter!

Mine is not the only candidacy seeking to repair the extraordinary damage that Sen. Fran Millar and other pro-Trump politicians are causing. Candidates all over the state have stepped up to win this fight.

Why? Because we refuse to let our leaders drag our laws back in time to the pre-civil rights era. We don’t all come from the same backgrounds or share the same challenges. We don’t all start life on the same playing field. If elected to represent you in the Georgia Senate, I promise you this:

I will work for you. I will ask hard questions to keep the promise of equality and progress that our people value. I will demand that your representatives treat you with respect, and address your fears.

Above all else, I will stand up and fight systemic oppression – including the lack of action in the face of the massacre of our schoolchildren. I will not stand for miscarriages of justice, where poor citizens are treated like the enemy. I will fight the denial of basic rights, like those of our citizens to vote. I will not accept the inattention and lack of compassion for the needs of women, children, and the elderly.

Together, we can achieve healthcare for all. We can raise the minimum wage. We can end the War on Drugs. We can provide affordable education. We can prevent school shootings.

We say “no more” to the far-right and to Fran Millar. We say it’s time for a change. We are ready to help Fran Millar box up his office at the Capitol.

We have some work ahead of us. If you can, make a donation and/or sign up to volunteer today to help us hit the ground running.


A campaign supporter, Cherish, who lives in a north Atlanta suburb, shared this story with me as we discussed access to affordable healthcare on Facebook. Sadly, it isn’t the first and it won’t be the last example of how many in our community are frustrated, scared, and feel a little trapped by the failure of Piedmont and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia to negotiate their contracts:

“My family is now impacted by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont feud which made everyone out-of-network as of April 1st. I went to Piedmont Hospital today for my mammogram and walked out before having it. I had abnormalities last year and followed up at the Doris Shaheen Center for a few months with advanced testing to eventually get an all clear to resume normal annual visits.

Now, Piedmont is out-of-network, which not only means the Shaheen Breast Center is out-of-network, but also my triplet’s pediatrician, my gynecologist, and also our internist. The boys have to get tested for cancer every three months and are thankfully, tested at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, but these orders are submitted through their Piedmont pediatrician.

Piedmont is offering 60% discount for those abruptly impacted with out-of-network fees, but it still would have cost me hundreds of dollars in extra out-of-pocket. They advised that I ask BCBS to submit Continuation of Care letters for every Piedmont doctor our family visits to allow in-network charges without switching doctors.

I ran into one of our kids’ nurses in the elevator at Piedmont, and she advised to wait a month before switching all our doctors. She said this happens every time the contracts are up and assured me it will get resolved. I can’t believe we could face having to either pay out-network rates (UNACCEPTABLE) or change ALL OF OUR DOCTORS in our family. I am so livid and disgusted at BCBS. This greed may very well cost lives, and BCBS of GA would be to blame!”

With everything Cherish has to deal with between her own health issues and those of her children, you’d think it’s enough to just manage her and her family’s doctors’ visits and budget for her bills. But we all know that isn’t the reality.

Surprise medical emergencies can cost thousands of dollars, and the uncertainty of getting insurance to cover preexisting conditions remains a big concern for many Georgians.

And this contract between BCBS and Piedmont? Without it, half a million Georgians (including many in our district) face my friend’s situation – having to pay much more to see their regular doctors, or find new care providers as soon as possible.

This isn’t right.

It shouldn’t be up to lawyers and accountants whether you can go to the doctors you have trusted for years. And no one should have to choose between paying for an emergency room visit and paying their mortgage.

Our legislators haven’t done much to try to fix this situation. But, they sure have talked a lot about “personal responsibility.”

I’d argue that by allowing lawyers and accountants to interfere with access to medical care, we are taking away a person’s ability to be responsible for their own health.

Let’s stop blaming people who are sick and in need of our compassion and support. And let’s start helping people get the care they need so they can be healthier and contribute more fully to their families and their communities.

I made healthcare one of my top policy priorities because I believe it IS our government’s responsibility to provide access to affordable, quality healthcare. A strong government can support a growing economy without trampling basic human needs.

As your representative in the Georgia Senate, I will vote my values, and I will fight for a single payer system to make sure everyone in Georgia is covered. No one should have to fight their insurance companies while fighting for their health.


Like most parents, Jay and I hope that our teenagers grow up making good choices. We want them to learn how to take care of themselves (do their own laundry) and plan for their futures. We want them to grow into responsible, contributing members of their community. But honestly, during the past few months, we’ve started to worry that our government is taking some important decisions away from them.

I hear a lot of officials talking about personal liberty lately – about the right to own a gun and to kill in self defense. But these same representatives are taking away the rights of women to protect their own lives and futures.

Last month, just a few days before the terrible massacre in Las Vegas, the Trump administration signed an executive order making it easier for employers and insurers to stop covering contraception.

Where does this leave the store clerk who can’t afford her high health insurance premiums, let alone her contraception? What about the warehouse worker who, for healthcare reasons needs more expensive contraception? What about the restaurant worker who needs contraception to treat a painful medical condition? These tax-paying citizens have the right to make their own healthy choices, but they are being prevented from doing so because of barriers our government is erecting.

Mr. Trump isn’t going to be there to console these workers, nor does Mr. Trump care if a young woman wants to get that MBA before she adds “mom” to her life experiences. His administration doesn’t believe it has to answer to these workers, nor pay for the consequences of unintended pregnancy.

We have strong moral values in our family. We believe in supporting lives – no matter who you are, what race you are, where you live, who you work for, or how much (or little) is in your bank account.

That’s why I’ve stepped up to run for office, along with record numbers of women all over the country. We’re all motivated by these same shared values and sense of urgency in preserving the lives of women and their families. We want to lift people up and bring barriers down. Here at home in State Senate 40, dozens of campaign volunteers have stepped up to help build an infrastructure to get more people out to vote. And over five-hundred of you have chipped in and made donations to our campaign.

If you are one of those five-hundred who have joined the cause, thank you for helping to lift women up. If you haven’t yet joined the cause, there’s no better time than now!


Last week, I suffered a medical emergency — my retina began peeling away from the back of my eye. Fortunately, my healthcare worked for me, and I am on the road to recovery. But I am well aware that this would not have been the outcome for millions of Americans in the same situation. Too many times, I hear stories of people ignoring symptoms because they are scared the care they need will cost too much, even when they have health insurance. If I had ignored my symptoms, I would have eventually become blind in that eye. And we all know that delayed medical care can have even more devastating outcomes.

As your State Senator, I will make all legislative decisions based on the idea that a strong government is necessary to counterbalance special interests, ensuring that an economy based on maximizing profits does not trample fundamental human needs.

Our healthcare industry, through maximization of profits that include multi-million dollar CEO bonuses, is trampling fundamental human rights, and it’s time we say enough is enough.

We need to stop protecting special interests and implement a solution that works for everyone, not just a lucky few. I believe a strong government is the best and most efficient way to get this done. Government is not the enemy. Government is you, me, and our neighbors.

Please speak up and fight for equal access to healthcare for every American, even if your healthcare is working for you. And help me, today, get to Georgia’s State Senate by making a contribution to my campaign. You won’t be disappointed.


I read a little story last night that I can’t get out of my mind. It was part of an article written by Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal Constitution about a conversation he had with Monty Veazey, president of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals. I remember Veazey from my days at the State Capitol; he’s a stalwart for rural Georgia healthcare needs. His job is hard these days.

Veazey was in Clay county over the 4th holiday. Clay county is located in extreme southwest Georgia along the Alabama border. Many of the smaller, rural hospitals near it have closed during the last few years. Anyway, Veazey said $700 disappeared from his wallet while he was there. He kept seeing patients who had been told, “You’re really sick; you need to get to the hospital in Albany.” And the patients said something like, “I have no money to get there. Just give me some medicine and let me go home.” So, Veazey gave them some gas money. They responded, “But I don’t own a car.” So, Veazey gave them some more money and said, “Find someone with a car, and pay them to drive you. You have cancer, and you will die without treatment.

Here’s a gem of an article about healthcare in Clay county. Read it. It’s short.

If you feel like nothing you’re doing is going to make a difference, I have a little glimmer of hope to share with you. On the map, Clay county is the “L” shaped county on the Alabama border in SW Georgia. Clay county voted 55% Democrat in the 2016 election. They’re part of a little “blue” island in SW Georgia! So yes, we can flip rural Georgia back blue.