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Trauma-care funding needs action in Atlanta today

Bill would set up vote on $10 tag fee

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The Georgia Legislature must act today if voters are to have a chance at approving a car tag fee that would finally provide a permanent funding source for the state's ailing trauma system, a trauma official said.

On the last day of the legislative session, the House needs to take up a bill that would allow a referendum to go to voters in November on a constitutional amendment that would add a $10 car tag fee, said Richard R. Bias, the senior vice president for ambulatory and network services for Medical College of Georgia Hospital, which has the area's only Level 1 Trauma Center.

The tag fee would raise about $80 million a year that would go into a permanent separate fund for trauma care, he said. That amount is what the state's trauma centers were losing a few years ago, said Bias, a member of the statewide trauma commission and chairman of the Region VI EMS Council.

"Therefore, to maintain the existing network, roughly an $80 million infusion was required," he said. MCG Hospital, for instance, loses about $8 million a year on trauma, Bias said.

Expanding the network to cover areas where there are gaps in coverage, mainly in south and northeast Georgia, would cost $150 million to $175 million a year, though that is still being studied, he said.

Gov. Sonny Perdue came through with $58 million in trauma funding in 2008, and $23 million was appropriated this fiscal year and $23 million is in the budget for next year. But to establish a statewide network, permanent funding is needed, Bias said.

While no one has voiced opposition to funding trauma centers, supporters are hopeful they will not run afoul of lawmakers who have vowed not to vote for any new taxes, he said.

"It's our hope that since this is being done in a way that just puts it out in the public domain to allow them to vote on it, that that is permitting the representative to meet his or her promise," Bias said.

It has taken about three years to get to this point, he said. If the House doesn't act today, "we're virtually starting from scratch because there will be new legislators on board, there will be new issues developing," Bias said.

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 04/29/10 - 10:31 am
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Determine which hospitals are

Determine which hospitals are capable of being trauma centers, but refuse to participate and make them share the trauma load. Many hospitals are perfectly capable of treating trauma patients, but refuse to because of the cost. These hospitals are often huge moneymaking enterprises. Spread the trauma cases around and the cost will be diluted among the money making hospitals.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 04/29/10 - 02:31 pm
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For example, Aiken Regional

For example, Aiken Regional (a former trauma center until they dropped the designation due to unpaid bills) and University Hospital have every service required of a trauma center. Open heart surgery, neuro, etc. They should both be required to be trauma centers to help MCG with the costs. Aiken and University make tens of millions and should have to help with trauma patients.

JDBENTLEY
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JDBENTLEY 04/29/10 - 08:00 pm
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Maybe one should check on the

Maybe one should check on the requirements for a trauma center, i.e. Level 1. There is more to it than having a "service" or open heart surgeons and neurosurgeons....a board certified trauma surgeon and/or surgical critical care physician is who I would want to take care of me and my loved ones if critically injured. Maybe those hospitals do not want to extra costs and burdens involved in being a trauma center. Remember, not all hospitals are "created equal". It truly MATTERS WHERE YOU GO when you've been severely injured.

corgimom
32219
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corgimom 04/29/10 - 08:20 pm
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Too bad they don't levy a fee

Too bad they don't levy a fee on all the criminals that shoot people. That's where a lot of the trauma comes in.

It's not the cost of the trauma center, it's the fact that most of the time, they don't get paid for their services. Shooting victims- most of whom are criminals- just don't seem to feel the need to pay the bills that they incur.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 04/29/10 - 08:49 pm
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JDBentley, let me ask you

JDBentley, let me ask you this. Aiken Reg. was a trauma center, but voluntarily gave it up due to the fact it is a money losing situation. Their level of care has not changed one bit. Do you think their care has diminished?

All the hospitals have surgeons in house and specialists on call. If you are basing your entire argument on a "trauma surgeon or SICU physican" being in the ER 24 hours a day, you had best check the requirements and realities. Do you think MCG has cardiac perfusionists in house 24 hours a day allowing open heart surgery? Exactly, as with all the other hospitals, they have to be called in.

Now I will bet you a surgeon is in house in all the hospitals 24 hours. (The SOD) to keep things going until the specialists arrive.

Watch a trauma surgeon try to operate on a heart patient and watch the cardiac surgeon kick him square in the butt as he runs him out of the OR.

There seems to be a whole business of those pushing for the trauma care center designation. Follow the money.

I positively know dropping the trauma center designations, Levels 1,2,3 was done for economic reasons. All hospitals with the capability should legally have to treat these patients. It takes the burden off MCG and the other trauma centers. Plus, transporting patients PAST perfectly capable hospitals is WRONG. Deaths have occurred because of the increased transport time.

Riverman1
83712
Points
Riverman1 04/30/10 - 05:35 pm
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Looks like I lost this one,

Looks like I lost this one, but here is that I said.

Let me ask you this. Aiken Reg. was a trauma center, but voluntarily gave it up due to the fact it is a money losing situation. Their level of care has not changed one bit. Do you think their care has diminished?

All the hospitals have surgeons in house and specialists on call. If you are basing your entire argument on a "trauma surgeon or SICU physican" being in the ER 24 hours a day, you had best check the requirements and realities. Do you think MCG has cardiac perfusionists in house 24 hours a day allowing open heart surgery? Exactly, as with all the other hospitals, they have to be called in.

Now I will bet you a surgeon is in house in all the hospitals 24 hours. (The SOD) to keep things going until the specialists arrive.

Watch a trauma surgeon try to operate on a heart patient and watch the cardiac surgeon kick him square in the butt as he runs him out of the OR.

There seems to be a whole business of those pushing for the trauma care center designation. Follow the money.

I positively know dropping the trauma center designations, Levels 1,2,3 was done for economic reasons. All hospitals with the capability should legally have to treat these patients. It takes the burden off MCG and the other trauma centers. Plus, transporting patients PAST perfectly capable hospitals is WRONG. Deaths have occurred because of the increased transport time.

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