Category: Commentaries

Expand Retirement Options, Shrink Teacher Doldrums

This commentary appeared in the February 1, 2017, edition of The Marietta Daily Journal. By Benita M. Dodd PAGE, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, has surveyed its members and the findings, reported in its January/February 2017 newsletter (PAGE One), are depressing. The survey found that nearly half of teachers (45 percent) say they are unlikely to remain in education for the next 10 years. Sadly, a majority – 53 percent – also said they would not recommend a career in education. The report notes, “With the current teacher shortage and continuing teacher pipeline issues, these statistics are of great concern to PAGE.” The survey also found that 59 percent of the respondents oppose converting the Teacher Retirement System from… View Article

Balancing the Books in Georgia Public Education

By Benjamin Scafidi BENJAMIN SCAFIDI Parents, educators, policy-makers and all other taxpayers have a right to know just how much taxpayer funding is spent on Georgia public schools, how this funding has changed over time, and how their public school dollars are being spent. Unfortunately, official state websites have historically contained misleading information that hinders Georgians’ understanding of the true resource cost of our public education system and the uses of those taxpayer funds. Specifically, official state of Georgia websites give the impression that taxpayers spend billions of dollars less on K-12 public education than is actually spent. For example, according to the official spending figures on the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) website, Georgia public schools spent a total… View Article
Who:   Small groups and employees working for groups with fewer than 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees (part-time and seasonal employees can be excluded). When:  The 21st Century Cures Act passed Congress on December 7, 2016 and signed into law on December 13, 2016 with an effective date of January 1, 2017 (plan years beginning after December 31, 2016). What:  The Cures Act focuses mainly on speeding up drug approvals through the Food and Drug Administration, but as an important additional feature of the law created a new type of Health Reimbursement Arrangement called a “Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement” (QSEHRA). Executive Summary:   The Cures Act overturns a previous ruling by the IRS and DOL that precluded employers… View Article

Fixing the $1 Billion Federal Unfunded Heath Care Mandate

By Kelly McCutchen There is no question Georgia’s rural hospitals are struggling. The great majority of these hospitals are losing money every year and several have been forced to close. Their struggles were one of the primary reasons cited for Medicaid expansion. But before throwing money at the problem, it’s important to understand one of the fundamental causes: a massive unfunded mandate from the federal government. In 1986, Congress passed, and President Ronald Reagan signed, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requiring hospital emergency departments to treat and stabilize all patients regardless of their ability to pay. Unfortunately, Congress didn’t appropriate funding to cover the cost. Imagine a law that required McDonald’s to give away food or Holiday… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Opportunity is knocking as the door opens on Georgia’s 2017-18 legislative session. In a state with a Republican governor since 2002 and GOP majorities in both chambers since 2004, it’s time for legislators to welcome policy reforms that can improve income, opportunity and well-being. In 2014, the Legislature capped the personal income tax rate at 6 percent. That’s a start. But legislators ignored a provision in the 2015 Transportation Funding Act (HB 170) to create a “Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure” that would “during the 2016 legislative session cause to be introduced in the House of Representatives one or more bills or resolutions relating to tax reform.” Reforming Georgia’s individual income tax rate was… View Article
By Katherine Restrepo Anybody who is in the business of selling the idea of direct primary care (DPC) to patients, employers, or politicians can anticipate the usual pushback that will arise in any Q and A format. “Why would I want to pay twice for health care?” “Are these doctors just cherry-picking patients?” “Is this health care delivery model just for the wealthy?” It’s nice that physicians are able to spend more time with their patients, but won’t a smaller patient panel exacerbate the physician shortage problem?” “If DPC is so great, why isn’t there more data to prove it?” It couldn’t be more predictable. Really. For those who need a quick explanation of direct primary care, it works like… View Article

New Year, Same Old Streetcar Named Disaster

By Benita M. Dodd Atlanta’s Streetcar System, three years later, still is nothing to brag about. Today the city of Atlanta begins Year 3 of operating its much-ballyhooed Atlanta Streetcar System, and so far, all that can be discerned is a lot of bally hooey. This month, the Atlanta City Council approved the final payment to URS for the design-build of the 2.7-mile Atlanta Streetcar project, making the total payment $61,630,655. That was, according to Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza, “$6 million less than URS originally submitted.” Not exactly. The 2014 URS contract authorized by MARTA (the transit authority designated to receive the $47.6 million federal grant for the Streetcar), was $59 million; the original URS contract, based on… View Article

The Top Ten in 2016!

What were the commentaries that most intrigued the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s readers in 2016? We looked back and tracked the top 10 trending items through the year. Here’s the countdown: No. 7: Rome’s Free Clinic: Community Taking Charge. Dr. Leonard Reeves, president of the Faith and Deeds Community Health free clinic in Rome, oversees medical student volunteers from the Northwest Campus of the Georgia Medical College. 10. Applying the Lessons of Criminal Justice Reform to Health Care. Read it here. 9. Welfare-to-Work Helps Georgians Up and Out of Dependency. Read it here.  8. Beyond Medicaid: Health Care for Low-Income Georgians. Read it here. 7. Rome’s Free Clinic: Community Taking Charge. Read it here.  6. Transit’s… View Article

The Glacial Update of Georgia’s Water Plan

By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Imagine a group project today where everyone must put their electronic devices in a basket and use a blackboard, notepad, pencil, slide rule or manual typewriter. Consider how many people still drive a 1955 or ‘65 Chevrolet on a daily basis. Then ask yourself if it makes sense to operate a state based on a 50-year-old water use plan. All of the above are ineffective, inefficient, illogical and outdated; much has changed over the decades.  Yet Alabama and Florida sought for decades to restrict Georgia to half-century-old water guidance, even as population, water use and demand have changed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has finally moved beyond the tristate blame game and accepted… View Article
By Ronald E. Bachman Selling health insurance policies across state lines has been a key item in Republicans’ health care alternative reform proposals. But only about 5 percent of the policies sold in the United States are to individuals.  There are many reasons for the paucity of sales, including the lack of employer-based tax advantages and inadequate financial value for agents selling policies one at a time. Multiple versions of “cross-state selling” exist. One allows individuals to purchase insurance from any state, in theory increasing choice and circumventing some burdensome and expensive home state coverage mandates. Critics argue that insurance products will be promoted from states with worse coverage and the fewest consumer protections. Another criticism is that insurers will… View Article

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.

Former Georgia Senate Minority Leader Chuck Clay more quotes