Friday Facts: May 1, 2020

It’s Friday!

This is the seventh 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 main barriers to maintaining usual care by telemedicine require changes that are unlikely to come from the federal level. Commercial reimbursement, Medicaid reimbursement and credentialing are the states’ domain. Only 20% of states require payment parity between telemedicine and in-person services. Fortunately, both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and some local commercial payers have modified payment policy in response to Covid-19. We hope others will follow suit.” – Judd E. Hollander, M.D., and Brendan G. Carr, M.D.

“As they rethink their practices for 2020-21, states should be granted waivers from student testing mandates if – and only if – they can show that they will proactively do something creative regarding instruction and/or accountability with this flexibility.” – Ben Scafidi and Eric Wearne

“Capitalism produces unequal outcomes: The wages for some grow faster than for others. Those disparities are palatable if they are caused by differences in risk-taking, work effort and skills. They are tolerable if people are getting, in some sense, what they deserve. But if wages aren’t determined by productivity – if hard work doesn’t pay off and if workers aren’t receiving just returns – then something has gone badly wrong with the system.” – Michael R. Strain

Government

Recovery: The Foundation proposed a series of policies for near-term relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also proposed principles to guide and oversee policy reforms. This week, the Foundation published an Issue Analysis tackling fiscal policy considerations for Georgia.

Shutdowns: Gov. Brian Kemp’s monthlong shelter-at-home order expired at midnight. The public health emergency Kemp declared for the state was set to expire May 13; on Thursday he announced he will extend it to June 12.

Elections: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that more than 1 million Georgia voters have already requested absentee ballots for the June 9 primary. He mailed out 6.9 million absentee ballot request forms to active voters. Georgia has allowed anyone to cast an absentee ballot without having to provide an excuse since 2005. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Legislature: House Speaker David Ralston informed legislators he intends to allow online committee meetings to begin on Monday, May 4, and in-person committee meetings to resume at the State Capitol on May 19, subject to public health directives.

Jobs: Since the middle of March (week ending March 21), the Georgia Department of Labor reports it has processed 1,369,421 regular initial unemployment claims, more payments during the pandemic than in the past four years combined.

Education

Special education: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has declined to seek waivers from Congress for major provisions of IDEA, the primary federal law governing the education of students with disabilities. Some schools will be in good shape in the fall from a compliance standpoint, writes Nathan Levenson for the Fordham Institute. “They acted quickly and used the latitude afforded by IDEA to rapidly amend [Individualized Education Plans] to reflect remote learning realities for their students.” He notes that most schools wrongly assumed “a waiver is surely coming, so we don’t need to do anything.”

MobilityappTransportation 

Mobility trends: Apple unveiled an app that tracks mobility trends since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Although the trend is improving in Atlanta, the app shows driving has declined 26% overall; walking has declined 28% and public transit has declined a whopping 55%.

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.

Certificate of need: States have been on a mission to “flatten the curve,” but they should also “raise the bar” by increasing the nation’s capacity to handle the COVID-19 cases that do arise, a Mercatus Center policy brief urges. “Certificate-of-need (CON) laws may contribute to diminished healthcare capacity, and their elimination can help raise the bar so that the nation is ready for the next healthcare crisis,”

Drug prices: Walgreens cut prices for hundreds of its prescription drugs in response to the COVID-19-related high unemployment. The new prices are available to all customers, including those with Medicare and Medicaid, through Walgreens Prescriptions Savings Club (an annual fee of $20 per individual and $35 per family). This affects a range of drugs used to treat common chronic conditions, including diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and mental health.

Broadband pilot: Georgia is one of four states piloting an affordable high-speed, wifi broadband service for providers in rural and underserved communities. The service is offered by Centene and AT&T’s FirstNet, the first nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform for first responders and the extended public safety community. Centene will offer grants to providers to assist with the upfront investment costs of new devices and equipment needed for telehealth consultations.  

Media                                         

YouTube: Did you miss “The End of Socialism?” Thursday with Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review Institute? Click here to view it on the Foundation’s YouTube channel. Click here to view the Foundation’s April 22 event, “A Second Chance Month Celebration,” with Tony Lowden, Executive Director of the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry.

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, “Governing by Network has Challenges, Rewards.” It noted, “[The book] ‘Governing by Network’ elaborates on why government can’t contract out a service to a nonprofit or for-profit organization, wash its hands of oversight and involvement, then self-righteously blame the contractor when the project goes belly up.”

On a personal note

A farewell to charms: The Georgian Club, the Foundation’s go-to event venue for decades, announced this week that it will close after 38 years in business. The Georgian’s board chair, retired U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, explained in a letter: “There are numerous factors that have gone into this decision, but in the end, the impact from the coronavirus, both now and in the future, necessitates the permanent closing of the club.” We’re sad to see this venerable Northside institution close and grateful to staff and management for their friendship, service and professionalism, even on very early mornings. We wish them well in their future endeavors.

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Georgia’s Reopening Approach Holds Lesson for Other States,” by Kyle Wingfield and Chris Ingstad.

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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