Friday Facts: May 18, 2018

It’s Friday!

Arthur Brooks

MONDAY IS THE DEADLINE: Seats are filling fast; register NOW to reserve your spot at “Telling the Human Story,” the May 23 Leadership Breakfast keynoted by Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. This 8 a.m. event at the Georgian Club is co-hosted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Georgia Center for Opportunity. The registration deadline is Monday. $30. For more information and registration, go here.

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Quotes of note

“An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.” – George Eliot (1866)

“How shall we avert the dire calamities with which we are threatened? The answer comes from the graves of our fathers: By the frequent election of new men. Other help or hope for the salvation of free government there is none under heaven. If history does not teach this, we have read it all wrong.” – Jeremiah S. Black (1880)

“The tyranny of local government was on full display this week. The culprits are some greedy members of the Seattle City Council. Backed by their union friends, they just voted to impose a ‘head tax’ on large employers, such as Amazon and Starbucks. The real victims, of course, will be the companies’ employees.” – Veronique de Rugy


Primary elections: Today is the last day for advance voting in Georgia, ahead of Election Day on Tuesday. According to AARP, 71 percent of Americans over 65 voted in the 2016 presidential elections, compared with 46 percent of those ages 18-29. At the same time, the “older” category is growing.

Health care

Low birth rate: U.S. fertility rates have hit a 40-year low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The provisional estimate of fertility is about 3.85 million births in 2017 and a total fertility rate of about 1.76 births per woman. Births were as high as 4.31 million in 2007, and the total fertility rate was 2.08 children. The “replacement” rate of fertility is considered 2.1 births per woman.

Reality check: Internet connectivity costs are higher in sparsely served rural areas, where telehealth can be especially effective. Alaska’s Cordova Community Medical Center, a 23-bed critical access hospital in the fishing community, has a monthly telecommunications bill of $80,000 but pays the “urban rate” of $1,000 thanks to federal subsidies. The hospital reports it may have to close because of retroactive subsidy cuts to the federal Rural Health Care Program. The data service provider billed the center for $964,370 in back costs. Source:

Shell game: In the past three years, Chicago-based Cook County Health and Hospitals System lost at least $165 million in potential revenue due to widespread errors, including employee mistakes and billing lapses, The Chicago Tribune reports, citing an inspector general’s report. Hospital leaders dispute that amount, estimating they lost between $79.5 million and $132.5 million, “because what is typically charged is not necessarily what gets reimbursed,” Becker’s Hospital Review reports.

Global care: Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare provides remote intensive care unit services as part of a telehealth partnership with Australia’s Royal Perth Hospital. The time difference is 12 hours, and Emory employees sent to Perth on eight- to 16-week rotations cover Emory’s ICU night shift using video monitors, microphones and specialized cameras.  

Telehealth: The Department of Veterans Affairs has amended regulations to allow VA providers to deliver care via telehealth across state lines, effective June 11. The move is expected to increase access to care by making more clinicians available for appointments. If it’s good enough for veterans, it should be good enough for all Americans.


Taking a stand: Where does your candidate stand on school choice? The Georgia Charter Schools Association polled the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and state school superintendent. See the responses here.

Taxes and spending

Open the books: has mapped every federal grant to every ZIP code in the nation. It examined Washington’s discretionary grants system – beyond such big-ticket items as health, welfare and defense – and found the federal government doled out 560,771 grants totaling $583 billion during fiscal year 2016, the most recent year on record. Access the map here. Source:


Distance lends enchantment: Steve Polzin of the Center for Urban Transportation Research points out that even as user fees decline and taxpayer costs rise, transportation is not being measured in consumer expenditure data on transportation, especially transit. “Additionally, and perhaps more important, not having to pay for things mutes decision-makers’ sensitivity to project costs,” Polzin notes. It’s worth keeping in mind as metro counties vote on transit taxes.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In May 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Tax Cuts a Vital Ingredient in Recipe for Prosperity.” It noted, “Federal income tax policy drives the financial decisions of business and individuals alike. It always has, and it always will. Tax reductions spur the economy. They always have, and they always will.”


Foundation in the news: Kyle Wingfield’s column on Georgia’s health care market was published by The Clayton Tribune, Macon Telegraph, White County News, Northeast Georgian, (Ellijay) Times Courier and Brunswick News. The Moultrie Observer published Kyle’s commentary, “Hands-off Gov’t, Hands-on Responsibility.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Benita Dodd in an article on proposed rent reforms in public housing.

Visit to read our latest commentary, “Embrace Student Loan Debt, Don’t Erase It,” by Jeffrey Dorfman.

Have a great weekend.

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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