Someday, hybrid Atlantans could walk among us.
State Rep. Beth Beskin, R-Atlanta, has raised a sharp protest against plans to annex Emory University and other properties into the city — but not into Atlanta’s public school system.
Allowing that to happen would create “hybrid Atlantans,” Beskin said, and subject the city to “dissension and division.”
The lawmaker made her points in an Aug. 4 letter to Mayor Kasim Reed and members of the Atlanta City Council. An excerpt:
“(I)t would be unprecedented for there to be ‘hybrid” Atlantans,’ i.e., an Atlanta citizen who pays Atlanta city taxes yet not Atlanta Public School taxes. One essential aspect of Atlanta is that every Atlantan is zoned for, and pays taxes to support, Atlanta Public Schools. It would create dissension and division among Atlanta citizens for certain areas of Atlanta to be exempted from the rights, benefits and obligations of inclusion in the Atlanta Public School system. …”
- Not feeling too peachy: The personal finance website WalletHub — comparing health care costs, accessibility and outcomes — recently released its “2017 Best and Worst States for Health Care.” Georgia tended more toward the latter than the former.
WalletHub used 35 measures — including cost of medical visits, average monthly insurance premiums, physicians per capita, quality of public hospital systems, infant mortality and life expectancy — in determining its rankings of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Georgia finished sixth from the bottom. For cost, it ranked 38th. That was the good news. For outcomes, Georgia placed 43rd, and it ranked 49th for access.
Areas that particularly hurt Georgia’s ranking included the percentage of insured adults ages 18-64 (tying New Mexico for 47th) and infant mortality rate (Georgia finished with the fifth-highest rate).
The South, in general, fared poorly in the rankings, with Louisiana finishing dead last.
- Seeking answers on health care? A lot of questions followed Blue Cross Blue Shield’s announcement this week that it would be pulling back in 2018, providing coverage in the individual market for only 85 Georgia counties.
One of the biggest: Why?
Blue Cross’ answer, in an FAQ produced by Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Ariel Hart, is the uncertainty sparked by the White House and House Republicans with regard to a type of insurance subsidy called Cost-Sharing Reductions. They are payments the federal government makes to insurers to offset the cost of coverage for lower-income Obamacare exchange customers. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut those payments, calling them “BAILOUTS,” and House Republicans have filed a lawsuit over how they’re paid.
Meanwhile, according to The Associated Press, the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that “mixed signals” from the president “have created uncertainty ‘far outside the norm,’ leading insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case.”
- The bright side? An increase in the American rate of death comes with a silver lining, according to Bloomberg. Major corporations have been able to reduce the amount of money they’re obliged to pump into pension funds. Lockheed Martin, for instance, has lowered its payments by $1.6 billion for 2015 and 2016.
- Immigration bill faces obstacles: Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is predicting that Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s new plan to overhaul the legal immigration system will not win enough support to advance through the Senate. “I think the White House knows that you don’t have 60 votes for that in the Senate,” Rubio said during a television interview. But Rubio did back the broader concept of prioritizing skilled immigrants for entry into the U.S., as Perdue’s bill does.
Time magazine also took note of Perdue’s bill and built a nifty widget to determine whether you could qualify for a green card under it. Just for fun, add that you have an Olympic medal or a Nobel prize — you know you want to — and see what happens.
- $tacey $pending: GeorgiaPol.com examined the rate that gubernatorial candidates in Georgia are spending the cash they're taking in and found a big divide between the two Democratic hopefuls: state Reps. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta and Stacey Evans of Smyrna.
- Handel’s helping hand: About one month after taking office, U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, has formed a leadership PAC to raise cash for political allies.
The group is called Helping America’s Next Dedicated Elected Leaders, or HANDEL PAC.
Leadership PACs are commonplace on Capitol Hill. While the lawmakers themselves can’t use the money for their re-election campaigns, they can dole it out to like-minded politicians to help forge alliances.
- Candidates, endorsements, etc.:
— Jim Beck, a longtime insurance agency staffer and leader of the Georgia Christian Coalition, and a onetime insurance industry lobbyist, has announced his candidacy as a Republican for state insurance commissioner. Also running are Republicans Jay Florence and Shane Mobley and Democrats Tomeka Kimbrough and Cindy Zeldin.
— A second Democrat has entered the race for a seat on the state Public Service Commission. Lindy Miller, an associate director of global public policy at Deloitte and co-founder of a Georgia-based renewable energy company, will face former state lawmaker John Noel in next year’s primary.
Bush, the Texas land commissioner and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is a de facto leader of the still-potent family network that has extensive ties in Georgia, and he was the only member of his family to endorse President Donald Trump.
— State Sen. Michael Williams has cast himself as the GOP candidate for governor most aligned with President Donald Trump. Roger Stone, a confidante of Trump’s, provided some validation for that claim, scheduling an appearance with Williams.
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