Category: Commentaries

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

2017 Legislature Can Act on Tax, Health and Education Reform

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
By Ross Coker With the tumultuous results of the general election, one issue that should not be pushed to the back is the reform of civil asset forfeiture laws to curb abuse and perverse incentives that harm innocent victims and the reputation of law enforcement. Some states, including Georgia, enacted reforms prior to the general election. Others made important changes via ballot measures in November. Criminal justice reform advocates are hopeful positive changes will continue under a new Trump administration. Below is a brief rundown of some notable state approaches to this issue, and their most recent status or change. California: A recent reform bill requires a conviction before forfeiture of assets can take place in cases involving assets… View Article
By Jeffrey Dorfman JEFFREY DORFMAN School choice is one of the most controversial and hard-fought public policy debates of the past few decades. Most liberals, who get significant funding from public school teachers unions, line up against any form of school choice, while many conservatives favor allowing some form of market to introduce competition amongst schools for education tax dollars. The argument against school choice always seems to focus on how it would “defund” public schools by “draining” monies away. This argument, however, is based on faulty economics and should be discarded or strongly rebutted by school choice proponents. School choice comes in a variety of flavors. Some public school districts let residents choose their preferred school within the district;… View Article

Lessons and Opportunities from The Election

By Kelly McCutchen It’s not always as good, or bad, as it seems. The same can be said of this year’s national election. Conservatives and liberals should temper their enthusiasm and despair; this election was not an endorsement of any ideology. It was a revolt, as Peggy Noonan so aptly puts it, by the “unprotected” against the “protected.” At its core were middle-class Americans, who had done everything they were told to do, but were frustrated by rising taxes and higher education and health care costs as their wages remained stagnant. They had lost hope in the future, for their children and in the American Dream. They felt disgust at the ruling political class and their crony friends and corrupt… View Article

Finally, a one volume resource from an independent source that gives those of us in public life a new view on which to make public policy.

Governor Roy Barnes more quotes