$10 tag fee would expand trauma care
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
September 28, 2010 12:00 AM | 2784 views | 19 19 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA - Voters will decide in November whether to pay a $10 surcharge on annual auto tag renewals to improve and expand trauma care in Georgia.

The constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Georgia needs at least 30 trauma care centers to care for its population, but only has 16, said Dr. Dennis Ashley, chairman of the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission.

As a result, the Peach State has a 20 percent higher rate of death from trauma than the national average, Ashley said, adding that 400 to 700 people die every year in Georgia from trauma injuries.

The $10 car fee, which would generate about $80 million a year, would help expand the 16 trauma centers to 30. The goal is to have every Georgian within 50 miles of a trauma center, he said.

State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) calls it an insurance policy.

"I think that the public thinks that medical treatment is available all over this state when they need it, and that's not true," Cooper said. "If you leave Macon and drive to Florida, you better be really, really careful."

A trauma center is more than just a hospital with an emergency room. It has the medical staff and life-saving equipment available to immediately care for severely injured patients. A Level 1 trauma center is the most comprehensive and offers 24-hour trauma care. Georgia has four Level 1 centers in Atlanta, Augusta, Macon and Savannah.

Ashley spoke of the "golden hour," a brief window of time in which to administer medical care after a trauma has occurred.

"Our best chance of saving your life is if we can get you within the first hour," he said.

That window shrinks to 30 minutes for children.

"I get people from two hours away from me, and if you look at some of north Georgia and some of South Central Georgia on the map, there's just huge gaps there where people are 75 to 80 miles away from a trauma center," said Ashley, who is also chief of Trauma Services for the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon.

Ashley challenged the argument that a statewide trauma network isn't needed for citizens who already live near a trauma center.

"The problem with that theory is that you travel to work or a meeting or vacation or visit family on the weekends, and you're very quickly away from the luxury of a trauma center," he said.

In April, Cobb's five state senators approved the senate resolution to place the constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Most of Cobb's 14 state representatives approved it as well, with the exceptions of Matt Dollar (R-east Cobb), Rob Teilhet (D-Smyrna) and Rick Golick (R-Smyrna). Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) is not recorded as voting.

Dollar said the Legislature had raised enough fees.

"Given that the Legislature had already taken action to raise many user fees, I did not feel raising the car fee at this time was appropriate," he said.

But Cooper said it's critical the amendment passes.

"It's the cheapest insurance policy you will ever get," she said. "It's getting people to the right kind of emergency care in the shortest time possible - and knowing when they get there, the hospital is ready to take them."
Comments
(19)
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jimof kennesaw
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September 29, 2010
VOTE NO, MORE TAXES.
WELL SPENT
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September 29, 2010
$10 to have Trauma Care centers across the state. From my viewpoint as a person who enjoys visiting other areas of our state by car think this is something that is drastically needed. Not only for the life saving quality for our citizens but this is also an investment that will pay dividends with jobs and business investment in communities across the state. This is long overdue.

If you are concerned about the $10.00 charge then consider switching that vanity plate to a regular plate and let that money go to somethign that could save your life.
Mr. G
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September 29, 2010
Typical Republican controlled State now wants to tack on yet another fee. I guess they really think most Georgian’s are stupid and won’t see it as yet another Tax. I will vote No!!! I thought the new Super Speeder law was suppose to help pay for new trauma centers??
Budget Minded
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September 29, 2010
Yea From Texas is right gas tax spreads it out to everybody, but that money should be put into an annuity fund and only 5 percent can be spent each year that way the fund can grow in two ways. If you spend all the money each year; then you have nothing the next year. You’re not going to spend all your IRA in one year so with an annuity it will grow and have longevity.
Super Speeder Law!
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September 28, 2010
Isn't this the reason for the new super speeder law? Didn't Prudue say that the additional fee was for trauma centers? The law hasn't been in effect for a year now and they think we have forgotten. As it should be you super speeders will be the ones to need it and you will be the ones to pay for it - NOT everyone else. I already pay enough in taxes and it is getting too expensive to work and earn a living.
Truth hurts
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September 28, 2010
I live 2 miles from a trauma center and I don't drive like fool, I'll keep my $10 bucks!
ATF
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September 28, 2010
This is a good idea. $10 is something all of us can afford. I even think it is better than a gas tax, which we can't track and keep an accounting of when it is all smashed together with other uses of the gasoline tax.

I just hope there is some accounting to the public on money taken in and money spent. I don't want "excess" amounts used for other purposes.
lulu bella
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September 28, 2010
WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT Just wait - MOST POOR PEOPLE OWN CARS - since when? MOST rich people use gas without owning cars?

Guess that is why I'm not a liberal - you make no sense to me!
sick & tired
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September 28, 2010
It is not #10 it is $10 on top of $1000's and $1000's. It is time to say STOP.

Look at it this way - MOST of the cars are IN ATLANTA - most of the trama centers OUTSIDE of ATLANTA. Let the people living in these areas, pay for their trama centers, the citizens in Fulton pay for GRADY.

STOP TAXING US - whether it is a fee, tax, or whatever you want to call it. I PAY enough!

need to say
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September 28, 2010
i will feel bad for you and you and you (and all of us) should a measly $10 annual fee be voted down.

have you ever driven on an interstate?

have you ever seen the horrific aftermath of a multi-vehicle pileup?

have you ever had to be the one to say "i'm sorry...we did all we could do" to a hysterically sobbing mother/father/wife/husband?

come on people. it's $10.
Just Wait
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September 28, 2010
This is just another way the Republicans using to nickle and dime those who can least afford increases in necessities. I agree that it needs to be attached to the price of gas so that it is spread across a broader number of users of both gas and trauma care.
oh-my
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September 28, 2010
It sounds like we need a fee to teach some of you folks how to use proper grammar. I wonder if you actually speak the way you write?
givemeliberty
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September 28, 2010
When will the taxpayers of this state stand up and say "ENOUGH"! The last time I checked I was paying a significant portion of my salary in various taxes from local to federal. I would love to see the day when someone stood up and asked to be elected simply on the basis that they would support no tax increases and would fight to actually reduce taxes. First Marietta government wants to give city workers a "free" clinic. Now the state wants to tax all of us for more trauma care. I think that most for profit hospitals can go out and secure the financing to build more trauma centers if there is ample reward for the risk. To use an old quote...."I'm mad as hell and I ain't gonna take it any more!"
ILLEGALS CAN REIMBUR
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September 28, 2010
HOW ABOUT IF ALL THE ILLEGALS REIMBURSE THE STATE FOR ALL THE FREE HOSPITAL VISITS EVERY DAY!!!!! MAYBE IF WE HAD CONTROL OVER ALL THE FREELOADERS WE WOULD NOT BE IN THIS POSITION!
rpaul20988
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September 28, 2010
HEY, what happen to the no cost healthcare??? now since this past everything to do with INS and healthcare is rising sharply......

NO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bobby T
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September 28, 2010
No doubt that there needs to be close trauma care available.

I agree that the cost should be attached to fuel rather than tags. A penny or 2 per gallon would go a lot farther and provide more funding. It would also spread the burden between residents and visitors.
anonymous
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September 28, 2010
I would rather see a small tax at the gas pump to capture money from all the through traffic
FROM TEXAS
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September 28, 2010
No needs to be a gas tax that way all illegal’s and tourist get to share the burden of cost, we need to fund trauma centers just not this way only cars will be paying a business will get a free ride this amendment to vague!!

Tell Chip to go back to work poorly written “Vote No”.

anonymous
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September 28, 2010
I paid over $500 for my tag last year. Where is all that money going? Fix the high ad valorem tax then talk to us about adding on additional fees
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