Coalition will advocate for legislative solutions under Gold Dome
ATLANTA, GEORGIA (October 23, 2018)—A bipartisan coalition of leading advocacy and taxpayer watchdog groups announced today they had joined the Georgia Ambulance Transparency Project, a new grassroots initiative to restore transparency and ethics to the provision and delivery of emergency services across the state.
The new coalition, which collectively represents the interests of hundreds of thousands of Georgia voters, includes Common Cause, Georgia Conservatives in Action, Georgia Ethics Watchdog, Main Street Patriots, Athens 4 Everyone, Athens Area Citizens for Better EMS Response Times, and Barrow County Board of Commissioners Chairman Pat Graham.
The Georgia Department of Public Health loosely regulates the delivery of emergency medical services throughout the state, but the agency pointedly does not provision it. Instead, the state has been carved into ten regions for which unelected task forces are empowered to select ambulance providers.
Georgia law allows ambulance company executives to serve on these councils and, once installed, to use their preferred status to protect incumbency and expel rivals providers at great cost to taxpayers and good government.
The GATP and its new coalition partners will educate the public and policymakers on the imperative to reform these rules.
“We’re incredibly encouraged by the breadth of this coalition, which has brought together conservative, liberal, and non-partisan groups in common interest,” Georgia Ambulance Transparency Project spokesman Julianne Thompson said. “The Georgia Ambulance Transparency Project and its partners will educate voters and lawmakers on the imperative to end the corruption and crony capitalism that has infected ambulance services throughout the state.”
“Common Cause Georgia supports reforming our laws to better protect citizens. Unfair and unethical practices involving private companies attempting to influence decisions concerning contracts is wrong and must end,” Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Sara Henderson said of the new coalition. “Georgians deserve protections and they deserve fair and honest government contracting processes that are open to the public. Too many times we witness lawmakers making backroom deals with private companies as a way of playing favorites but Common Cause Georgia is joining this coalition to help eliminate these unfair practices by local governments.”
“This is taxpayer funds that are being spent in the dark and we will work hard during the 2019 legislation session to work with our coalition to pass legislation that allows for more transparency and protections against these unethical practices,” she added.
“Georgia Conservatives in Action has been fighting for ethics and good government for over 20 years,” Kay Godwin said. “I’ve never seen a more clear-cut case for a need for change than what is going on with ambulance selection in Georgia. We are proud to join the fight for transparency and a fair selection process.”
“I have never seen a more blatant example of conflict of interest that is so systematic and so widespread in my entire career,” remarked William Perry of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs. “This has got to stop. Georgians, and especially our health care communities, deserve better!”
“Private EMS providers should not be allowed to have a decision in the provision of EMS services, especially where they stand to directly profit from those services,” Barrow County Board of Commissioners Chairman Pat Graham said. “This current practice leaves our citizens with no voices and no recourse as to the quality and capabilities of ambulance services in their communities.”