Christmas begins this week. That’s right: “begins.”
Traditionally Christmas lasted 12 days, although in recent times we have largely truncated it to a single day. Possibly the holiday was cut short due to a shortage of turtle doves and maids a-milking. Possibly not.
Either way, and as a traditionalist, far be it from me to deprive anyone of what’s due them over Twelvetide. I don’t have any golden rings, drummers or pipers to offer, but I will give you a dozen good ideas for Georgia in the new year.
12 Regions Without Certificate of Need
One of the few ideas the federal leviathan has created and then completely disowned is “certificate of need,” the idea the government should decide how much healthcare service is provided in a given community. Rather than letting the market decide the supply of care, a state agency considers applications from would-be providers – and lets their competitors wield what nearly amounts to a veto. The House Rural Development Council recommended ending CON in Georgia and relying only on the state’s existing licensure regime. The key is ensuring this change leads to more choice for consumers through competition.
That is the technical term for seeking more flexibility in how Georgia spends federal Medicaid dollars, and it’s fast becoming one of the most popular ideas under the Gold Dome. A pilot program at Grady Health System in Atlanta sparked much of the interest, but there are several other requests the state ought to make to ensure tax dollars are being spent in the best possible way to improve access to healthcare for low-income Georgians.
10-Week Runoffs Shortened
Tired of never-ending campaigns? One of the reasons we endured so much campaigning this year is the 10-week runoff period for federal elections imposed by a court order to ensure overseas voters, especially military personnel, can participate. Other states have shortened their runoffs by using instant-runoff or ranked-choice voting for those who are abroad. It’s time Georgia looked into this, among other much-needed election reforms.
9 Ways to Strengthen Charters
Charter schools are public education innovators, using flexibility from some regulations to use new educational methods in exchange for tougher accountability. But they operate on substantially less funding than traditional public schools, especially when it comes to capital funding. The Georgia Charter Schools Association has a good list of nine ways to strengthen charters, from greater funding for facilities to a streamlined renewal process for high-performing schools.
8th Year of Criminal Justice Reform Needed
The FIRST STEP Act that Congress approved this past week is not only a triumph for sensible federal reform but a tribute to the groundbreaking work done to improve Georgia’s criminal-justice system. We shouldn’t stop while we’re ahead; there’s too much left to do. A good start would be to reauthorize Georgia’s Criminal Justice Reform Council, which drove these policy reforms for seven years but expired this summer.
7-Day/24-Hour Access to Your Doctor
So much discussion about healthcare reform focuses on coverage, or perhaps payment. But what matters most is ensuring patients can actually see a quality healthcare provider when they need one. New arrangements such as Direct Primary Care allow people to contract with a family doctor for a slate of routine care and, often, discounts on labs, specialists and other types of care – all for much less than a comprehensive insurance policy costs. They can pair such a contract with catastrophic coverage for true emergencies, cutting their overall expenses. But Direct Primary Care won’t take off in Georgia until lawmakers clarify that it is not insurance and shouldn’t be regulated as such.
What, that’s only six? Well, you’ll have to come back next week for the rest! Until then, I wish you and yours a merry (start to) Christmas.