Friday Facts: June 28, 2019

It’s Friday! 

Events

November 15:  Early Bird registration is open for the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, which takes place Friday, November 15, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly. The theme is “Wisdom, Justice, Mobility,” a play on Georgia’s motto: “Wisdom, Justice, Moderation.” Click here to register. Click here to view video coverage of previous events. 

Quotes of note

“Health care is one of the most expensive items we buy each year, and yet most Americans haven’t a clue what all of this costs. For everything else we buy as Americans, we are bargain hunters – for cars, homes and restaurants but not for health and medical services, which are about one-seventh of our entire economy.” – Stephen Moore 

“The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys.” – Thomas Jefferson 

“A real-life proof of concept for a successful democratic socialist society, like the Lost City of Atlantis, has yet to be found.” – Michael Cembalest 

Wondering what laws take effect July 1 in Georgia? Read the Foundation’s summary here. 

Economy

Giving less: Amid a complex tax climate for charitable giving, American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $427.71 billion to U.S. charities in 2018, according to Giving USA’s annual report on philanthropy. Total charitable giving rose 0.7% measured in current dollars over the revised total of $424.74 billion contributed in 2017 but, when adjusted for inflation, total giving declined 1.7%. 

Needing more: Sixty-seven percent of U.S. companies want to expand their IT teams but there is a shortage of skilled workers, especially of security and cloud professionals, according to a new survey by Robert Half Technology.

Machines and jobs: The rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics will lead to the loss of up to 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide by 2030, according to “How Robots Change the World,” a report from Oxford Economics. Around 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost to robots since 2000, the report found, including 260,000 jobs in the United States.

Where to lose a wallet: Researchers turned in more than 17,000 wallets containing varying amounts of money at public and private institutions in 355 cities in 40 countries around the world to measure whether people would report the wallets to their “owners.” The lowest rate of reporting was in China; of the top 10 “honest” countries, nine were European. Researchers found that in virtually all countries people were more likely to return wallets that contained more money. Source: Science

Independence Day 

Shrinking Liberty: There are four counties named Liberty in the nation, in Florida, Georgia, Montana and Texas. Sadly, Georgia is the only state where Liberty’s on the decline. According to the Census Bureau, the county had 63,588 residents in 2010; in 2018, there were just 61,497.

More Union: Union County, Ga., is one of 18 counties named Union in the nation, and one of just seven that saw population growth from 2010 to 2018, according to the Census. In 2010, the population was 21,356; by 2018, the county population was 24,001.

Fireworks: Atlanta ranks seventh in the nation on WalletHub’s list of best places to watch fireworks on Independence Day. BYOB, however: The city is No. 96 for beer and wine prices.

Technology

Smaller screen: The average daily time consumers spend on mobile devices in minutes has surpassed television, according to the 2019 Internet Trends Report. Last year, they spent 226 minutes on their mobile devices versus 216 minutes for TV. Eighty-eight percent of consumers use a second digital device while watching TV. Source: TechCrunch.com

Healthcare

Cutting costs or competition? President Trump issued an executive order directing health officials to create regulations ensuring transparency in the prices of medical procedures and services. Hospital and health plan lobbyists say public disclosure of competitively negotiated, proprietary rates would lead to higher prices, and America’s Health Insurance Plans is arguing the disclosure will reduce competition.

Surprise billing: With bipartisan congressional efforts to regulate out-of-network “surprise” billing by hospitals, a prominent attorney who has argued nearly 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court is warning the action may be unconstitutional. The proposed legislation “threatens to take property from healthcare providers without just compensation” and “threatens to infringe on providers’ associational activity,” according to Paul Clement. Source: Modern Healthcare

Out of pocket: Patients are owing more and more out-of-pocket expenses under high-deductible health plans and other cost-sharing arrangements. Deductibles alone increased by 150 percent between 2009 and 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Profitable non-profits: A study by Open The Books found the nation’s 82 top non-profit hospitals saw average year-over-year asset growth of 23.6% while the five publicly traded for-profit corporations saw 1.5% growth. Citing the need for greater transparency, the report notes, “Taxpayers deserve to know whether our non-profit healthcare providers, which use our laws to structure themselves as charities, are truly working for patients.” 

Transportation

E-scooters: Amid complaints from residents and motorists, the city of Atlanta has issued new rules for scooter riders, including reduced speeds on the Beltline, parking zones and riding only on roads. Six metro Atlanta cities have pre-emptively banned e-scooters: Alpharetta, Marietta, Smyrna, Norcross, Snellville and Lilburn, The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports.

Media

Foundation in the media: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kyle Wingfield on MARTA’s plans to expand rail.

 Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In June five years ago, the Foundation published, “More Families Benefiting from Innovative Education Policy.” It noted, “Florida’s version of ESAs will empower parents with a whole new level of education customization and continue the school choice march in a big way.” Education Savings Accounts have yet to arrive in Georgia. 

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “New Rules Expand Individual’s Healthcare Options” by Kyle Wingfield.

 Have a great weekend and a Happy Independence Day!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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