Sunday reads

Just some of the news I’ve been catching up on today:

Maggie Lee at the Macon Telegraph  has an article about last Monday’s carbon pollution rules and the shift already underway towards renewal energy sources in Georgia.

Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out that the world didn’t come to an end years ago when Atlanta’s air quality was classified as “non-attainment” and the city was required to take action to reduce smog and other problems (the article concludes behind their pay wall).

The AJC is doing a series of articles on climate change and the impacts already seen on Georgia’s coast called “A rising tide of concern.” The articles are behind a pay wall and include this: “David Stooksbury, the former state climatologist, said the unwillingness of leaders to address climate change is dangerous.’I don’t think that most of our elected officials understand the long-term seriousness of what climate change will do to the agricultural economy, public health and the environment,’ Stooksbury said. ‘It will be much cheaper and better for the state if we follow a well-developed plan starting now rather than waiting until we must respond.’ ”

Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources is quoted too, stating, “Last month the wildlife resources division of the Department of Natural Resources issued its State Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP, which states unequivocally that “climate change presents unprecedented challenges.”

The AJC reports that Governor Nathan Deal had no statement on climate change. Senator David Perdue, who lives in a mansion on one of Georgia’s Barrier Islands, Sea Island, told the AJC, ““the scientific community is not in total agreement about whether mankind has been a contributing factor.”

The rising tides will eventually wash away the sand Perdue and others have their heads buried in on this subject and many others.

 

Gov Deal’s band-aid approach to health care

Hancock County, Georgia’s poorest among our 159 counties, is getting much needed help with access to health care via technology, community leaders, and innovators in delivering care to patients.

Right now people living in Hancock County have to drive to a neighboring county to see a doctor for any and all medical concerns. Even something as simple as an ear infection requires a drive of at least 25 miles to another county. Getting to the doctor can be a huge expense and feat of logistics for Georgia’s rural citizens, including those in Hancock County.

A new program, with a price tag of just $105,000, will now bring state of art health care to Hancock County’s citizens. Patients, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), and doctors,  connected through secure technology, will work to determine medical problems and where a patient needs to receive care. Emergency room trips and the cost of care should be reduced, while patient health outcomes, and the establishment of medical homes for patients, should improve.

I don’t want to diminish the importance of this program for Hancock County, which has Governor Deal’s support.

But it is important to understand that  making access to health care easier and more affordable for Hancock County’s citizens via technology, isn’t  enough to address the failure to provide affordable health care to all of Georgia’s citizens.

And a  pilot program announced by the Rural Health Stabilization Committee last week won’t either. The Committee  will create four hub and spoke type health care delivery sites. Dcotors and EMTs, along with the patient and technology, will assess medical problems and get the patient to the appropriate place for care.

Using technology to care for patients isn’t new in Georgia. Telehealth has effectively been used for emergencies, specialty consultations, and mental health care in our state for years. What these programs offer should increase access to very good health care, reduce costs, save time, and improve patient health outcomes.

But these programs aren’t going to solve the bigger problems of delivering health care to Georgians and making it affordable. The Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee wasn’t convened to address Medicaid Expansion. Gov Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson has been clear about that.

Governor Deal remains a staunch opponent of saving our state millions of dollars with Medicaid Expansion and improving access to health care for underserved Georgians.  Instead, he and his buddies in the Georgia General Assembly, chose to constrict access to health care via Medicaid Expansion. That also means our elected officials have redirected the federal tax dollars Georgians send to Washington every year to states who have chosen to expand care and reduce costs with Medicaid Expansion.

Hancock County’s new telehealth program, coupled with the hub and spoke pilot program designed by the Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee, are big pluses for a few communities.

Governor Deal and the General Assembly can do more for Georgia’s citizens who need access to health care. We need more than a lick and a promise.

 

 

When grandparents are the parents

Last week the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Gov Nathan Deal said this about Georgia’s families where children are abused, or worse, murdered,“When was the last time the press or anybody else asked the greater family, ‘Why didn’t you do something about this?’ It really galls me, quite frankly, to see an able-bodied grandparent complaining about the fact that DFACS didn’t do something to protect her grandchildren. And my question is, well, where were you?’ ” (DFACS is the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services).

Where were these grandparents? US Census data from 2012 says this about grandparents and their grandchildren:

Number of grandparents living with grandchildren                    265,530
Percent responsible for grandchildren                                                  46.9
Percent of grandparents  raising  grandchildren for 5+ years          38.8
Percent of households with no parent of grandchild present           32.8
Percent of grandparents over 60 years old                                           34.1
Percent living in poverty in 2011                                                             25.2
Number of households with grandparents and grandchildren   171,939
Percent of all households in Georgia                                                        4.9

Grandparents in Georgia who care for their grandchildren are eligible for a whopping $50 per month from the state of Georgia. Have you priced diapers, day care, or children’s books lately? Fifty dollars doesn’t begin to make a dent in the costs of raising a child.

Single grandparent Deborah Paris, who is raising three grandchildren, told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer “Our system will pay a foster care parent to take care of children and supply and do what they need for them,” she said. “But me, as a relative or actually grandparent, you give me little to no assistance. … Our system is just awful.”

We need to address multiple problems concerning the welfare of children in our state. Gov Deal shouldn’t begin by making grandparents the scapegoats where the state has failed.