January 23: More than 28,000 events will celebrate National School Choice Week 2018 from January 21-27. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation marks this event annually with a Leadership Breakfast. The keynote speaker is Senior Fellow Dr. Ben Scafidi; the topic is “Georgia 2020: Educational Opportunity for All K-12 Students in Georgia.” 8 a.m. at the Georgian Club. $30. Registration and information here.
Quotes of note
“Some praise at morning what they blame at night, But always think the last opinion right.” – Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism” (1709)
“Wise men and fools alike, in varying style, Rush into print, and still, midst books galore, The world grows ever older and more vile.” – Giancarlo Passeroni, “Rime” (1775)
“When we risk no contradiction, It prompts the tongue to deal in fiction.” – John Gay, “Fables” (1727)
Deadline: Today is the deadline for enrollment in ObamaCare health insurance policies in Georgia. One week ahead of the deadline, signups were significantly lower than last year’s: 246,270 versus 404,000 enrollees in 2016. Of the 39 states using the federal health exchange (healthcare.gov), Georgia has the fourth-highest enrollment. Source: Georgia Health News
Affordable? Health care spending increased 4.3 percent in 2016, reaching $3.3 trillion, or $10,348 per capita, according to a new study by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). That represents a $354 increase per capita but is actually a deceleration in the spending rate over 2014 and 2015 because of a slowdown in enrollment and use of goods and services. Source: Health Affairs
Choice? According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, nearly half the nation’s counties will have just one health insurance carrier available under the Affordable Care Act in 2018. That’s 1,524 counties (48.52 percent).
Here today, gone tomorrow: According to federal data, about 10.1 million individuals kept their ObamaCare coverage through June 2017, having selected a plan and paid the premium. This was down 300,000 compared to the first half of 2016 and down 2.1 million from signups by the 2017 open enrollment deadline.
Lessons learned: After the “crowd-out effect” that resulted from implementation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (known as PeachCare in Georgia), Dr. Merrill Mathews of the Institute for Policy Innovation warns Congress to proceed cautiously on proposed welfare reform next year. “Reforming welfare programs so that they help people who really need it and not those who don’t will be a challenge. Imposing a work requirement on most welfare programs would be a good start.”
Food stamps: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue believes the food stamp program is ripe for reform. “I think most American people don’t believe if you’re able that (it) should be a permanent lifestyle, so I think one of the things that you’ll see probably is a change regarding the ability for able-bodied, working adults or adults without dependents to rely on food stamps continually.” Georgia has already restored work requirements in some counties. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Pensions: Georgia has the 15th lowest unfunded liabilities per capita and the 15th best pension funding ratio among the states, according to a report issued this week by the American Legislative Exchange Council, “Unaccountable and Unaffordable.” Neighbors Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida all finished ahead of Georgia. The report notes that, “absent significant reforms, unfunded liabilities of state-administered pension plans will continue to grow and threaten the financial security of state retirees and taxpayers alike.”
Criminal justice reform
Civil asset forfeiture: The Reason Foundation highlights 2017 legislation introduced by Georgia State Rep. Scot Turner that would require a criminal conviction before someone’s goods can be seized by law enforcement. If Turner’s bill becomes law next year (the second half of Georgia’s two-year legislative session), Georgia would join 14 others states requiring a criminal conviction in some or all asset forfeiture cases.
Net neutrality: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to dismantle the Obama-era “net neutrality” rules. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute reports, treating the internet like a utility has unintended consequences, “The broadband market in Europe, which has long been regulated like a utility, has experienced only half as much investment in wireline service as the United States. Meanwhile, Europeans’ average mobile broadband speeds are 30 percent slower than what Americans enjoy.” Here’s a good overview from the American Enterprise Institute.
This month in the archives: In December five years ago, the Foundation published, “Help Patients and Budget: Replace Georgia’s Broken Medical Tort System.” It noted, “The current system is a failure. It fails to compensate more than 97 percent of individuals who are injured by medical negligence, and the odds are even worse for the poor or elderly. Statistically, you are just as likely to be injured by negligence today as you were 30 years ago. These are dramatic and unacceptable failures!”
YouTube: All Foundation events are recorded and can be viewed on YouTube. The latest addition is the December 4 Leadership Breakfast with U.S. Senator David Perdue, “Tax Reform: A Pro-Growth, Pro-Jobs Approach.”
Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cited comments on health care reform by U.S. Senator David Perdue of Georgia at the Foundation’s December Leadership Breakfast. The Coastal Courier and Bryan County News published Benita Dodd’s commentary on “Marsy’s Law,” a victims’ rights constitutional amendment initiative.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Georgia’s ‘Good’ Grade on Economic Freedom Needs Improvement,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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