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Amendment 2 would have served purpose

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POSTED: November 8, 2010 1:13 p.m.
On Election Day, Georgians rejected Amendment 2, which proposed an annual $10 car tag fee to help fund a statewide trauma care system. $10 per year — the cost of a pizza.
Medical experts say the bill would have saved 700 lives annually. Memorial Health University Medical Center President and CEO Phillip S. Schaengold expected the fee to raise about $80 million per year, which would have increased the number of Level 1 trauma centers in Georgia. Currently, there are only 16, which is half the national average for a state this size.
Dr. Christina M. Berenguer, a general surgeon with Southeast Georgia Surgery, said trauma is the No. 1 cause of death among Americans ages 1-44. The rate of death is 20 percent higher in Georgia compared with the rest of the United States, primarily because of a lack of access to trauma care.
“Within the first 60 minutes after an accident, the ‘golden hour’ of trauma, opportunity exists to save lives if appropriate care is delivered,” Berenguer wrote in a recent letter published on the Courier’s editorial page.
The amendment may have failed due to poor communication. Many voters, already feeling taxed and overextended, likely never got past the $10 fee. Admittedly, fee is a scary word. As Georgia’s population faces layoffs, furloughs, salary cuts and rising costs of living, the last thing anyone wants to do is cough up money for a requisite fee. The majority of residents probably made up their minds to vote the bill down on principal, not bothering to research the fee’s possible benefits. Few voters thought of the charge as the equivalent of parting with $10, although that really is what it boiled down to.
The other logical explanation for the amendment’s failure is voters did not understand how important it is to fund additional trauma care units in Georgia.
When all is said and done, though, the amendment’s defeat is a loss for Georgians who will need immediate health care if involved in a life-threatening situation.
 

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