Georgia editorial roundup

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Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

July 14

Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on releasing inmates:

Local law enforcement officials have long complained privately that the state of Georgia uses Savannah as a dumping ground for a disproportionate share of inmates being released from the state's prison system.

That unfair process must change.

Savannah has enough home-grown lawbreakers who keep the cops busy. It doesn't need an abundance of imports.

The issue of felons who are released back into society locally has taken on additional seriousness, thanks to the city's ongoing efforts to remove some of the homeless camps off President Street Extension just east of downtown.

Cindy Murphy Kelley, executive director of the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless, said some of these homeless people who have been living in tents and makeshift shelters in this thick bamboo forest are felons. They "don't have anywhere to go and won't," she said.

That's a short-term problem for Metro police — and, a longer-term problem for the community.

Police will forcibly remove people. But that doesn't mean those who are displaced will vanish. They must live somewhere. Since felons have criminal records, they have trouble finding jobs and places to live. So a homeless camp becomes the housing of last resort.

The state's prison system offers transitional centers and programs to help inmates who have paid their debts to society lead productive lives after they are released. But some don't. Or can't. So they return to the only thing they know: Crime.

That's what upsets many police chiefs and others responsible for public safety.

This community has developed a relatively comprehensive safety net for citizens who need help. Many other Georgia communities lack what Savannah offers.

Unfortunately, these social programs and community-based agencies can serve as a magnet for those who have no prior connection to Savannah — yet who still need to live somewhere. Too often, Savannah is the destination city ...

The city is clearing out some of the homeless camps as part of a much-needed drainage improvement project east of downtown. No one is picking on the homeless. The city has no choice.

The state, however, would seem to have plenty of choices when it comes to discharging inmates in various locations across Georgia.

Savannah is rightly known for its warm hospitality. But when it comes to felons, the state shouldn't play us for patsies.

Online:

http://savannahnow.com

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July 14

The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on the Affordable Care Act:

A private foundation issued a report claiming 20 million Americans "gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act as of May 1." And the left reflexively threw a party.

"The verdict is in: Obamacare lowers uninsured," says a headline on Politico.

"Obamacare haters, your case just got weaker," writes The New Republic.

"For millions who signed up, Obamacare is working," proclaims Vox.

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but the celebration is a little premature. Coverage has increased, but 20 million? That's a clear overstatement. The actual gains are nowhere near that high.

Had the Obamacare cheerleaders more closely scrutinized the Commonwealth Fund's report, which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, they might not have been so quick to reach for the pompoms.

The foundation arrived at its headline figure by adding together the following groups: the 8 million consumers who selected an ACA marketplace plan; the 6 million who enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program; the 5 million who purchased a plan directly from an insurer; and the 1 million young adults who gained coverage under a parent's policy.

The first problem is that the report counts all people obtaining health care coverage, regardless of whether they previously had it. That's not "gaining" coverage - that's replacing one form of coverage for another.

Next, the 8 million people the Obama administration claims signed up for private coverage through the law's health exchanges includes those who signed up but never paid.

It also ignores the number of people who likely will fall out because of nonpayment in the coming months, but the report can't necessarily be faulted for that.

As for the Medicaid enrollees, the 6 million figure is technically accurate. But it's a stretch to claim those numbers as an ACA victory because many of those people always were eligible for Medicaid. They just never signed up until after October.

Only someone looking for reasons to pad the numbers would make such a leap.

Then there's the 5 million who purchased coverage outside the exchange. This group includes people who bought plans directly from insurance brokers or insurance companies. Though these plans are ACA-compliant, they may not qualify for Obamacare subsidies. So how exactly can one claim these people are "gaining" cover under Obamacare?

As for the estimated 1 million people younger than age 26 who now are dependents on their parents' plans, some analysts believe the figure is vastly inflated.

But even if it was dead-on accurate, Commonwealth's 20 million figure likely is still off by millions ...

So pardon us for holding off on ordering party favors until more accurate figures come in.

The true test of whether Obamacare is "working" will be when the exchanges reach a stability point.

For the exchanges to work, people - particularly the young and healthy - must enroll and stay enrolled to subsidize the health care costs of older people. If too many people drop out, premiums will rise to the point where the exchanges collapse.

That's always been the inherent weakness of the Obamacare individual mandate, which is a forced regressive tax on young and healthy Americans to purchase health insurance plans they can't afford or don't want so older and wealthier Americans can pay less ...

If the law is allowed to stand as-is, many Americans will jettison Obamacare once they discover that its inherent flaws make free-riding safer than ever, causing a downward spiral of falling enrollments and rising premiums that ends with the collapse of the entire system.

But if the left wants to declare victory after Obamacare's first enrollment period and throw a party based on inflated numbers, hey, have a ball.

There may not be too many more reasons to celebrate in the future.

Online:

http://chronicle.augusta.com

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