Georgia Urged to Invest in Education, Health Care; President of the State's Medical College Wants a Workforce That's More Fit

Article excerpt

Byline: Walter C. Jones

ATLANTA | Georgia could give its economy a shot in the arm by increasing its spending on education, health insurance and research, the president of the state's medical college said Friday.

Ricardo Azziz, president of Georgia Health Sciences University, said policymakers don't often talk of social services as economic-development programs but they should. Even Medicaid, the health-insurance program for the poor, brings money to a community that circulates in that local economy, he said.

"At the end of the day, we know that if you have health insurance, your health care and your health improve," he said. "If your workforce is healthier, then prospective employers will be hiring healthier people."

On the other hand, the uninsured are an economic drag, he said.

"There is this fallacy that somehow the uninsured do not affect 'my life,'" he said. "... They cost money to treat. They cost five times as much as if you had provided coverage."

His comments came at a conference on the state budget sponsored by the Atlanta think tank Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

While GHSU has a greater than $2 billion impact on the state's economy, it can't attract more researchers, for example, without adequate taxpayer money to invest in infrastructure, he said. …

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