Category: Issues

Maine strategy no prescription drug solution

By Nina Owcharenko The United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision (PHRMA v. Walsh) to allow Maine Rx, a Maine government program requiring prescription drug discounts, to move forward.   While the Court’s decision focused on matters of law, and not policy, health policy makers at the federal level and in every state of the Union should resist accepting this as an endorsement of policy and instead re-evaluate the real effects such a government pricing proposal would have on the delivery of health care.   Unintended Consequences of Maine Rx Under the Maine Rx program, states would provide prescription drugs at a discount to residents who are without coverage by requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide a rebate similar to… View Article
By Sara Pilzer Any official who visits a Georgia river, stream or creek after a heavy rain understands why Brant Keller is a wanted man. Keller is director of the Griffin Stormwater Utility. The city of 24,000 is Georgia’s first local government to implement a practical – and successful – solution to one of the state’s most serious challenges in meeting federal water quality standards: stormwater runoff. The problem, according to the state Environmental Protection Division, is that “Residential, commercial and industrial development has directly affected natural resource areas and wildlife habitats by replacing natural cover with impervious surfaces like asphalt and concrete.” “Rivers and streams are affected by erosion and sedimentation, stormwater runoff and municipal and industrial discharge.” The… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd There’s not a single good reason for Asthma Awareness Month. There are, in fact, more than 20.3 million good reasons, all of them Americans who report currently suffering form asthma. And among them are 6.3 million children. Marking World Asthma Day on May 6, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson acknowledged asthma as “one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States.” He announced federal grants would fund innovative community-based disease prevention and control programs. The Environmental Protection Agency marked the day differently, announcing a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop an air-quality forecasting tool. “The 31 million Americans with asthma, including 9 million children, will breathe… View Article
By Johnny Isakson Federal income tax policy drives the financial decisions of business and individuals alike. It always has, and it always will. Tax reductions spur the economy. They always have, and they always will. This month, the United States House of Representatives will act on President Bush’s economic stimulus-and-growth tax reduction proposals. I fully support the president’s proposals and the additions included in the recommendations of the House Ways and Means Committee. These recommendations properly address three key factors essential to economic prosperity: consumer purchasing power, individual and corporate investment, and job creation. The president’s acceleration of the 2006 income tax reductions to 2003 will immediately increase the purchasing power of every taxpaying American citizen. The average American family… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen If you owned stock in telecom companies last year, you probably learned a lesson about the risks of investing in the technology sector. These risks point to the need for caution as residents and leaders of Lowndes County review recent proposals for local government to enter the technology business. Much of the support for the proposed Valdosta Telecommunications Network (VTN) is based on a concern for high prices, particularly for broadband (techno-speak for fast) Internet service. An article in the Valdosta Daily Times reported that Lowndes County residents and businesses would save more than $80 million by entering the telecom business based on a recent study. This sounds enticing, but residents would be wise to remember the… View Article

End Health Care Discrimination: Give Cash a Chance

By Kelly McCutchen The customer with cash is often rewarded with a discount, but try paying cash for your next doctor’s visit and you most likely will pay up to twice as much as everyone else. It’s not that doctors don’t like cash. They are simply caught up in the crazy Rube Goldberg machine that we call our modern health care system. When managed care organizations establish their provider networks, they are often able to negotiate steep discounts from the providers’ standard rates. By setting their standard rates higher, doctors and hospitals are able to increase their discounted payments from managed care organizations. These standard rates, inflated far above the actual cost of service, are the prices that everyone outside… View Article

How New Car Dealers Put the Brakes on Competition

By Morgan Smith I.          Summary It has been four years since Georgia legislators enacted broad changes to the state laws that regulate the relationship between auto dealers and car manufacturers. The changes have created significant benefits for auto dealers by insulating them from new forms of competition – such as direct sales to consumers from car manufacturers and online retailers. The new rules also expanded some existing protections that restrict how car manufacturers can interact with dealers in key aspects of their business. Georgia’s 1999 regulations have created a less competitive market environment, which imposes excess costs on consumers, car manufacturers and online retail competitors. The expanded restraints – such as the prohibition on non-dealer sales and strict relevant market… View Article
By Morgan Smith Trudging from dealership to dealership to kick the tires on the new car you’re thinking about buying is nothing new for Georgians. Even in the facilitating age of the Internet, the Georgian whose heart is set on that Toyota Camry or VW Jetta still must do a lot of driving around town to check out dealers’ competing offers. Ever wondered why? It’s called “Relevant Market Area” or RMA. No matter how populated the area, whether it be crowded metro Atlanta or little Statesboro, Georgia’s established new-car dealers have wangled a little-known law that allows them to prevent any same-brand competitor from setting up shop within eight miles in any direction of an existing dealership. And if that… View Article

Leaner State Budget a Better Fit

By Benita M. Dodd and Kelly McCutchen The wailing and gnashing of teeth under the Gold Dome might easily persuade some Georgians that drastic measures are needed for lawmakers to bridge the budget gap for fiscal 2004. Certainly, some advocates for women, children and seniors predict devastation of needed government services without a tax increase. Even the governor threw up his hands after the House rejected a proposed tobacco tax increase to help fund a $400 million shortfall in Georgia’s $16.3 billion budget for fiscal 2004. “If they don’t want to agree, what do they want to do?” he said at a news conference. The last thing lawmakers want to do is succumb to deadline pressure and pass an arbitrary… View Article

Georgia Should Lift Ban on Mail-Order Prescriptions

By Kelly McCutchen It seems that just about everyone has caught on that ordering prescriptions by mail can help health-care consumers save hundreds and even thousands of dollars. But Georgians can’t count their savings just yet: Georgia law prohibits Georgia pharmacies from mailing prescriptions to individuals. The purpose of the law is to protect the walk-in retail trade of corner drug stores. That well-intended protectionism carries a hefty price: Georgians are unable to reap the cost-savings and convenience that consumers across the nation are enjoying. The General Assembly should consider putting the benefits of millions of consumers over the parochial interests of a few pharmacists. Ordering pharmaceuticals by mail is so popular and cost-effective that most large employers give employees… View Article

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