Next week, one of the most important votes in the history of health care in the state of Georgia will take place.
Amendment 2 will allow Georgians to decide whether they want to pay an annual $10 fee on motor vehicle tags to fund trauma care in our state.
With apologies to David Letterman, here’s the top 10 reasons why we need Amendment 2 to pass:
10) Trauma injuries are the No. 1 cause of death among Americans under the age of 45 and the No. 3 killer among the general population. Trauma doesn’t discriminate — victims come from all backgrounds. Fifty-four percent are Caucasian, 34 percent are African-American and 9 percent are Hispanic/Latino. Males account for over 68 percent of trauma victims in Georgia.
9) In Georgia the death rate for trauma victims is 20 percent greater than the national average. The Georgia Hospital Association estimates that there are approximately 700 deaths per year in our state because of the lack of a trauma system network. Estimates suggest that only 30 percent of major traumatic injuries in Georgia are treated at designated trauma centers.
8) The $10 annual motor vehicle fee will raise $80 million a year to fund the formation of a statewide trauma network. This will allow the Georgia Trauma Commission to establish a statewide trauma network assuring all Georgians that access to a trauma center is readily available. It also will ensure that those existing trauma centers that are facing enormous financial burdens will continue to operate.
7) The money goes directly to trauma and nothing but trauma. The money raised will not go into the state budget to be appropriated but instead will go directly to the Trauma Commission in a special trust fund that will have annual, independent audits to ensure accountability. The funds will be spent on trauma related services only.
6) Motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of trauma in Georgia, accounting for nearly 38 percent of the cases. This is why the motor vehicle tag fee was chosen — if you drive in Georgia you need to be assured that trauma care is available. Currently there is not a level 1 trauma center located below Macon on I-75, resulting in motorists traveling south involved in a traumatic accident being exposed to greater pre-hospital response times.
5) Georgia has only 16 trauma centers in the state and only four level 1 centers. It is estimated that Georgia needs approximately 25 to 30 designated trauma centers in strategic locations to adequately meet the trauma needs of our citizens. Although many of our hospitals provide quality care to injured patients, there are still many areas that do not have rapid access to trauma centers.
4) Rural hospitals are not equipped to handle trauma patients. While we are blessed to have some fine rural hospitals in our state, because of financial limitations, many are not equipped to handle trauma patients. Death rates in rural Georgia from accidents are much higher than in the urban areas of our state.
3) The money raised also will help to train first responders as well as buy ambulances and helicopters. The Trauma Commission will be responsible for developing a trauma transportation system to provide immediate transport for trauma victims, facilitating trauma education and prevention and acting as the accountability mechanism for the entire Georgia trauma care system. Organization is the key to any statewide system and the Trauma Commission will have this responsibility.
2) The critical window of just 60 minutes after a serious injury to get life-saving care will be closer to being a reality in Georgia. Referred to as the “golden hour,” this is the time frame that often determines life or death. Children are more vulnerable and only have 30 minutes. For every death caused by a traumatic injury, there are three people who become severely disabled. Proper treatment during this “golden hour” can save people from life-long disabilities.
1) It’ll be there when you need it. When the phone rings in the middle of the night — when you’re lying in bed late at night worrying about your child getting home safely — when you’re driving down the crowded interstate with your family in the car … you get the picture.