Southern votes not enough to pass trauma care amendment

By Brian Entin - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As many Democrats were licking their wounds on Wednesday, many on both sides of the aisle in Georgia are concerned after an amendment to build and expand trauma hospitals around the state did not pass.

Supporters say Amendment 2 could have saved 700 lives a year. It would have beefed up existing trauma hospitals and built new ones.

But the $10 per year fee collected at car tag offices was voted down.

"This was literally about saving lives, but the voters spoke and they did not believe it warranted ten dollars per car registration," Memorial Health CEO Phillip Schaengold said.

Schaengold says a lot of the issue comes down to population. In South Georgia where there is only two trauma hospitals the amendment largely passed.

But up North, where more of the voters are concentrated and more of the trauma centers are located it was a different story.

Counties such as Gwinnett right outside of Atlanta voted it down.

"They should have spent the money because this is the kind of coverage people need when they are in a bad accident," voter John Steves said.

Supporters of the charge called it a fee, while opponents called it a tax.

"It was not a tax. It was an insurance policy. For $10 you would have helped fund an expansion of the trauma system," Schaengold said.

Not only would the amendment have funded new trauma centers, it would have beefed up existing ones.

Memorial would have received nearly $5 million for improvements and upgrades. Schaengold says they needed it.

"In the absence of that funding we have to fund that cost now ourselves. We are already the safety net institution for this entire region," Schaengold said.

Memorial said it will continue to make their trauma department a key part of their mission, especially because they are the only trauma center between Charleston and Jacksonville.

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