Friday Facts: June 7, 2024

The Buckeye Institute in Ohio recently released the policy brief “How Higher Hospital Costs Lead to Higher Prices.” Georgia and Ohio have certain regulatory differences when it comes to their healthcare landscape: Ohio has expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, unlike Georgia, while the only certificate of need requirements in Ohio are for long-term care beds and facilities. But one significant similarity is the amount of hospital consolidation that both states have experienced in recent decades. 

Take Piedmont Healthcare in Georgia, for example. Twenty years ago, the system consisted of just two hospitals in Atlanta and Fayetteville. By the end of the decade, Piedmont would acquire Mountainside Medical Center in Jasper (2004) and Newnan Hospital (2007). Today, Piedmont is the largest health system based in the state, with 24 hospitals spanning from Columbus to Macon and from Athens to Augusta. 

It is not just Piedmont. Wellstar Health System currently has 11 hospitals – despite closing two in recent years – and stretches from LaGrange to Griffin to Augusta. In Georgia, the four largest health systems currently account for 51.6% of hospital beds available statewide.

What does this mean for healthcare access and healthcare costs in Georgia? We look at that in this week’s commentary. We also have the latest news and analysis, including:

  • Unemployment claims in Georgia declined
  • Group seeks to halt Hyundai plant near Savannah
  • State issues grants to help school districts better align their technical education programs
  • Thursday, June 6, marked the 80th anniversary of D-Day

Have a great weekend,

– Kyle Wingfield

Friday’s Freshest

Confidence in the justice system needed

Your opinion on the Donald Trump verdict is probably related to the opinion you already had on Donald Trump. But what every American ought to want, regardless of their thoughts on the verdict, is a legal system operating at the highest possible level, with strong public confidence. Because that isn’t the case right now.

All eyes will be on Georgia this fall

National political observers are watching Georgia intensely during this presidential election year. They want to know which candidate will take our 16 electoral votes. While that’s an important question, it will also be interesting to see how all of this attention will change us. One particular result from the recent primary elections can provide hope that we may yet fend off the worst of the effects.

Another crack at reforming occupational licensing?

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Speaker Jon Burns recently announced the creation of a joint Blue-Ribbon Committee to look into reported issues with the Secretary of State’s Professional Licensing Boards Division. This task could open the door for necessary reforms that make it easier to work and start a business in Georgia.

How does government policy increase the cost of housing?

If you’ve been following the housing market, you’ve certainly noticed a recent surge in prices. Or a continued surge. Much of this increase is not due to market forces, but rather dictated by a complex system of regulatory factors that increase costs. It is just another instance of government over-governing. We break down the various fees and regulations that add more than 25% to the cost of a new home. 

A day of reckoning for higher education?

Many regular Americans are paying tens of thousands of dollars per year to send their children to college campuses, only to watch as they are either obstructed from attending class or, worse, are radicalized themselves. Mountains of student debt – and the taxpayer-funded forgiveness of said debt – did not produce sufficient will to reform today’s radical campuses. But their moral inversion just might do it.

Georgia brewers say they’d have more success…in North Carolina

Georgia has slightly more than 11 million residents and about 170 breweries. North Carolina has slightly fewer residents, 10.8 million, but has more than twice as many breweries, around 420. So why does North Carolina have so many more breweries?

The Latest


Unemployment claims in Georgia declined

Initial filings for unemployment benefits in Georgia dropped last week compared with the week prior, the U.S. Department of Labor announced. New jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell to 4,052 in the week ending May 25, down from 4,431 the week before, the Labor Department said. U.S. unemployment claims rose to 219,000 last week.

Plastics company bringing jobs to Lowndes

A manufacturer has announced plans to open a plant in Lowndes County, bringing jobs to the area. Utility Plastics will invest about $20 million to open a facility in Valdosta’s Westside Business Park, a statement from the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority said last week. The new site is expected to bring about 60 jobs to Lowndes County.


Grants to help schools match technical education with industry needs

The state is awarding more than $200,000 in grants to help 15 school districts improve the alignment of their technical education programs with local industry needs. The districts will use the one-time-only grants to conduct in-depth reviews of workforce needs in their communities  and work to address gaps between those needs and their Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education programs.

Atlanta launches entrepreneurship training program for college students

Through the Technology and Innovation Learning Experience program that began in May, 13 students representing five startups from Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Morehouse and Spelman Colleges are getting $3,000 stipends and are receiving free housing, meals, mentorship and training for their companies.

Government accountability

More debate among Augusta officials over bid to audit parks and rec department

After reviewing more information, hearing more recommendations, and responding to more motions, Augusta commissioners this week sent a bid proposal to audit the Parks and Recreation Department back to committee for review. Last week, during a Finance Committee meeting, commissioners questioned how a bid to conduct the audit that arrived after the deadline was recommended for approval by city staff. 

Conservation group seeks to halt Hyundai EV plant near Savannah with permit challenge

A coastal Georgia conservation group on Monday informed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it will take legal action to stop work on Hyundai Motor Company’s soon-to-open electric-vehicle manufacturing facility near Savannah. The Ogeechee Riverkeeper informed USACE that it is challenging the October 2022 approval of a permit that helped clear the way for the project in Bryan County. 


America’s commute to work is getting longer and longer

The American worker is making peace with a longer ride. Big shifts in the way people live and work are making commutes of over an hour into the office more common—and even more palatable. Rising housing costs have prompted many to move farther away from city centers, while the staying power of hybrid work means they don’t have to drive into work every day. 

$7.5 billion in government cash only built 8 E.V. chargers in 2.5 years

In 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included $7.5 billion to build 500,000 public charging stations for electric vehicles across the country in an effort to boost a switch to the use of clean energy. Since that time, just eight chargers have been built. Meanwhile, the private sector is actually building out a nationwide charger network. 


How Maureen Sweeney made the right call for D-Day

Maureen Sweeney was a postal clerk at Blacksod Point on the northwest coast of Ireland, where one of her duties was to record data that fed into weather forecasts for the British Isles. In early June 1944, Sweeney sent a series of readings that helped persuade Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, to delay D-Day and avoid potentially disastrous weather that could have wrecked the landings. 

Dr Pepper just passed Pepsi as the second biggest soft drink brand

Coke is still the top soft drink in America. But the runner up spot, long held by Pepsi, now belongs to Dr Pepper. After years of slowly gaining market share, Dr Pepper inched ahead of Pepsi as the number two brand in the country in 2023, according to market share data from Beverage Digest, a trade publication.

FanDuel nearing naming rights deal to replace Bally Sports

FanDuel may be on a lot more televisions relatively soon. The sports gambling giant is reportedly nearing a deal to replace Bally as Diamond Sports’ naming brand for its regional sports networks. Diamond declared bankruptcy last year with its parent, Sinclair, losing money since its $9.6 billion purchase from Disney in 2019. Diamond’s networks broadcast 38 teams in MLB, the NBA and NHL.

Quotes of the Week

“Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt

“I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said, ‘No, but I served in a company of heroes.’” – Major Richard Winters, Commander, Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

“Developing a good work ethic is key. Apply yourself at whatever you do, whether you’re a janitor or taking your first summer job, because that work ethic will be reflected in everything you do in life.” – Tyler Perry

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