Friday Facts: April 17, 2020

It’s Friday!

This is the fifth Friday Facts edition to focus on the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation and Georgia. View previous editions here. View the Foundation’s near-term proposals here. Share your ideas: Email us at info@georgiapolicy.org.

Quotes of Note

The quote below, from an op-ed by the president and the chairman of the Cato Institute, appeared Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is also privately funded, and we couldn’t have said it better. 

We wouldn’t criticize others for taking aid. In our communities and across the nation, millions have lost jobs and paychecks, while vital needs persist. Small-business owners struggle to preserve their life’s work and to sustain their employees. And we can’t say these loans wouldn’t help us right now. We’re wholly funded by private donations, the overwhelming majority of which come from individuals who will suffer material losses from the pandemic. Financial pressures and difficult choices lie ahead.

Why, then, are we not applying for a CARES Act loan? Because doing so would undermine the principles that underlie the Cato Institute’s mission and animate its policy work. Central to this mission is our view that the scope and power of government should be limited. Our ability to make that case with credibility and integrity would be irreparably compromised if we accepted a loan right now. We’ve never taken money from any government.

“Extraordinary things happen when individuals, through voluntary action, work together to make society better. This is no time to feel helpless. We are in this together.” – Adam Brandon

Events

Register online for upcoming events, which will be live-streamed online via Zoom.

  • April 22: Register here for “A Second Chance Month Celebration,” with Tony Lowden, Executive Director of the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry
  • April 30: Register here for “The End of Socialism?” with Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review Institute.

Education

K-12: Gov. Brian Kemp closed K-12 public schools to in-person instruction through the rest of the school year. Their digital footprint appears to be shrinking as well, however. For example, this week Cobb County began a four-day school week. Cherokee County’s school superintendent announced plans to end the school year early, on May 8 instead of May 28. Will districts continue to receive funding for services not provided?

Healthcare

Status report: For the state’s daily COVID-19 report, visit the Department of Public Health website link here. The report is updated daily at noon and 7 p.m.

Task force: President Donald Trump announced the creation this week of a 200-member task force comprising elected officials, industry leaders and thought leaders to advise the White House on reopening sectors of the economy shut down by the pandemic. During calls with several groups Wednesday, the president was urged to dramatically increase coronavirus testing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Woodwork effect: Georgia is one of 14 states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even so, as of December 2019, Georgia had enrolled 1,777,011 individuals in Medicaid and CHIP (PeachCare), a net increase of 15.76% since Obamacare’s first open enrollment period and related Medicaid program changes in October 2013. This year, expansion states must consider how to afford the added costs of the Medicaid expansion population; federal reimbursement drops to 90%. Source: CMS.gov

Telehealth: Humana has expanded access to more than 150 telehealth and other virtual services such as virtual check-ins, e-visits and telephone evaluations during the pandemic. An office visit delivered via telehealth by an in-network provider will be reimbursed at the same rate as an in-person visit. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

Funding formula: The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently began distributing the first $30 billion of congressional coronavirus emergency funding designated for hospitals. Some states hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic will receive less funding than states touched relatively lightly, according to an analysis by Kaiser Health News. That’s because hospitals and doctors are being allocated funds according to their historical share of revenue from the Medicare program for seniors, not according to their coronavirus burden.

Economy

Revenue: Georgia State University fiscal researchers say the state and local governments could see a loss of up to $1.27 billion in sales tax revenue from key sectors of the economy this year because of the coronavirus shutdown and its aftermath, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Legislature must return before the end of June to pass a budget for fiscal year 2021.

Groceries: There is no immediate shortage of food in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But current demand for items such as grocery-size products and on-demand delivery is greater than what is in abundant supply: bulk, large-sized products and processed shipments to restaurants that remain open. Source: Gwinnett Daily Post

Personal business: For the week ending April 11, there were 58,900 new business applications across the nation, according to the Census Bureau. That was a 21.4% drop over the same period last year. Georgia had 3,670 business applications, a 2.8% increase over last year; the only other state to show an increase was Wyoming. (In Georgia, corporate applications were down 28%.)

Newspapers: The pandemic was the last straw for the Marietta Daily Journal, which ended the “daily” aspect this week. It began a five-day publication schedule – Tuesday through Saturday – acknowledging, “Well before the coronavirus upended our economy, the print industry – this publication included – was already facing challenging times.”

Jobs: At the most, an estimated 37% of Americans have the luxury of working from home, which means about two-thirds of workers must go to a job site and are vulnerable to layoffs. Last week, 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, bringing the total in a month of shutdowns to 22 million claims. Before the pandemic, the most Americans to ask for unemployment benefits in a four-week stretch was 2.7 million, or 2.4% of the labor force, in the fall of 1982. Source: Wall Street Journal

Media                                         

Social media: Follow the Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In April 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Long-Term Budget Reality Requires Bold Innovation.” It noted, “Change is difficult, so the natural human response is to delay change. That’s why, especially in government, constant pressure is needed to focus on capturing efficiencies.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Build the Foundation for a Sound Ongoing COVID-19 Response,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our website at georgiapolicy.org.

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