Georgia Watch works to make sure consumers get a fair shake and to level the playing field with powerful special interests in this state. We focus on ensuring fair utility rates, cleaner energy options, access to safe, affordable healthcare, and safeguarding personal finances.
These are our policy priorities in 2013:
Protect ratepayers from bearing the burden of cost overruns on Plant Vogtle
Construction on Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 is already months behind schedule and at least $88 million over budget. Currently, the entire cost of overruns could be unfairly borne by ratepayers alone. Southern Company shareholders, who own Georgia Power, have no skin in the game. Incredibly, the law in Georgia even allows Georgia Power to earn more than 11% profit on overruns! We want the state's legislature to amend the law so that Georgia Power cannot collect any profit on construction expenses that exceed the originally certified cost to complete the project. Such a mechanism clearly would provide Georgia Power with a strong incentive to manage the project efficiently in order to keep costs down and ensure greater equity between shareholders and ratepayers.
Hold nonprofit hospitals accountable for their tax-exempt status
We believe renewal of the provider Medicaid assessment fee paid by nonprofit hospitals in Georgia is critically important to ensuring the most basic access to care for low income, under- and uninsured Georgians, especially in rural counties.Failure of the state legislature to renew this provider fee would devastate the state's rural hospitals and significantly threaten the charity care safety net for the entire state. However, we also believe nonprofit hospitals that do not pay any taxes should be held accountable for providing financial assistance and other community benefits in the communities where they operate. We support further legislation that would quantify the value of the tax exemption they receive and require a commensurate benefit in the form of charity care and other services to the community.
In addition, we support policies that:
Expand Medicaid to increase access to healthcare, reduce incidence of uninsured emergency room visits, which costs are passed on to the insured, and mitigate the economic toll of high healthcare costs, including bankruptcies and foreclosures
Enact meaningful ethics reform in state government
Defend against predatory lending products and practices
Promote expanded renewable energy options and increased EMC transparency