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Georgia’s Amendment 2: A Foot in the Door

Although I have not practiced neurosurgery for many years, I have kept abreast of health care policy and advances in medicine. Since my retirement I founded and edited a medical journal, served on the editorial board of another international surgical neurology peer-reviewed journal, and at the request of President George W. Bush I served in the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the CDC in Atlanta. I trained at the premier Georgia trauma center, Grady Memorial Hospital, under the auspices of Emory University, and I have published on this subject.

Frankly, Amendment 2 should be voted down because it is a pipe dream. We have 16 trauma centers in Georgia and Amendment 2 calls for 30 with a $10 per car registration fee that would realize $80 million per year.

And yet, trauma centers, such as The Medical Center of Central Georgia, are operating right now with an estimated $270 million per year in uncompensated care deficit. Grady Memorial Hospital was nearly shut down a couple of years ago for lack of funds, and you think we will create another 14 Grady-like hospitals in Georgia with $80 million per year?

If you believe this, I have some coastal property in Paraguay I want to sell you. I believe this $80 million will end up, at best, offsetting uncompensated care rather than bringing new technology or new trauma services to Georgia. Thus, it will not save one life in the state. It will only be a foot in the door for more government taxation and regulation that we can ill afford.

Amendment 2 calls for the establishment of new centers, the training of more personnel, and procurement of more complex and expensive equipment, etc. If there is ever enough money (15 percent is supposed to go to new centers), it will, at best, create Level 3 and Level 4 centers that will only evaluate, triage and transfer patients, which means duplication of services and additional delays in treatment — not better care but more red tape.

And as far as survivors, where are the cost-effective analyses? How many of those 700 patients, who may be saved under this proposal will survive in a persistent, chronic vegetative state? How many will have miserable, severely impaired cognitive function due to brain injuries? And where are the funds to pay for these surviving, future long-term care patients’ maintenance in chronic rehabilitation hospitals and eventually nursing homes?

Newcomers and industry coming to Georgia will be looking first of all for a low-tax, business-friendly environment, low property taxes, low crime and good schools with safe neighborhoods for their children, good hospitals and private doctors. Human nature being what it is, few will be considering trauma care statistics in the state.

When we evaluated grant proposals for funding at the CDC, we were to evaluate them for scientific validity and cost effectiveness. This proposal would not pass muster. Respectfully, I vote NO on Amendment 2!

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.
Macon, GA

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Georgia’s Amendment 2: A Foot in the Door. Macon Telegraph, October 27, 2010. Available from:

Copyright ©2010 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

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