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Extra $10 Tag Fee Proposed for Trauma Care

ATLANTA -- Car tag renewals could cost $10 more as a way to pay for a statewide trauma care network. And super-speeders could get $200 fines above and beyond a regular speeding ticket.

These separate efforts to breathe life into the state's weak trauma network were introduced in the state Legislature Tuesday.

Both ideas have been tried in the past with no success.

State Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton) and Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) introduced a bill that would add a new $10 fee on car tags above the annual registration fee.

The money, estimated to be about $85 million per year, would go to the Georgia Trauma Trust Fund.

Supporters of a trauma care network say that's the sum needed to adequately pay the cost of trauma care. If Georgia could reach the national average in trauma care services, it could save 600 lives per year, said Earl Rogers, senior vice president of Georgia Hospital Association. Doctors says deaths decrease if a patient is taken to a trauma center within a "golden hour" of an accident.

South Georgia is particularly bereft of trauma services. Statewide, Georgia has 15 designated trauma care hospitals, but there's nothing much south of Macon to the Florida line.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has resurrected his "super-speeder" legislation from two years ago. Rep. Jim Cole (R-Forsyth) introduced the governor's legislation.

The law would charge a $200 extra fine on motorists driving more than 85 mph on any highway and more than 75 mph on a two-lane road.

"What we tried to do is tie behavior that causes the burden on trauma centers to helping to fund trauma care," said Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley.

Perdue estimates the super-speeder fines would generate $23 million per year. The governor has proposed a fee on hospitals and health care providers to contribute money to Medicaid and to pay the rest of his proposed $60 million for trauma care this year.

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