Proposal calls for Georgia-wide medical school expansion

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January 15, 2008

ATLANTA, Ga.---The Medical College of Georgia is expanding. The big question has always been where. Today a report calls for expanding across the state of Georgia.

Paul Umbach of a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm made the presentation to the Board of Regents and a packed audience in Atlanta.

News 12 talked with local lawmakers about the plan. One lawmaker, Sen. Ed Tarver, says he feels let down.

"It seemed that he was going with the original plan that was on the table, and then he came back with an added proposal that 'you need to fund because I said so'," Tarver said.

The $200 million project calls for growth in Augusta, Athens, Albany, and Savannah and promises 10,000 new jobs for the state and at least 4000 jobs for Augusta.

"Is it feasible? Is it realistic? Is it fair to the taxpayers to ask for a $200 or $300 million investment in this plan, when there are still untapped resources that could be used?" Sen. Tarver asked.

Errol Davis, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, says the price tag isn't the problem--it's health care. With Georgia's population increasing, the state is facing a shortage of doctors.

"We cannot afford not to do this," Davis said.

Outside of cost, some are concerned the plan shortchanges Augusta. Rep. Quincy Murphy says that's not so.

"Augusta-Richmond County, the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, will be the primary source, the heart and soul, the administrative arm of medical education in the state of Georgia.

Mr. Umbach took it a step further: "I think it's a big day for the Augusta region, a big day for MCG to be able to be the driving force statewide, and to take what it's done for 170 years and expand it as far as it can."

So what next? That's up to the Board of Regents to vote on. They meet monthly.

If the plan gets the go-ahead, the Medical College of Georgia could bring $3.2 billion dollars to the state of Georgia by the year 2020.

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