I-TEAM: Economic fallout of COVID-19 hitting every part of Georgia state budget

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 4:52 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Doctors, nurses, medical students, and health experts continue to fight the spread of COVID-19. Now they will likely have to do it with even less money in Georgia. The economic fallout is hitting every aspect of the state budget.

Even in the height of this pandemic, lawmakers are having to consider sweeping budget cuts and the medical community is not immune. We found more than a million cut from infectious disease control. AU stands to lose critical funding -- also in the millions of dollars -- impacting everything from rural healthcare to the cancer center.

Senators taking to the floor Friday at the Georgia Capitol to hammer out cuts that they say aren't popular but necessary to keep the state afloat amid billions of dollars in losses. The clock is ticking. They have to cut at least $2.6 billion in funding by July 1.

We combed through the 300-page budget proposal and found $700,000 cut from Georgia’s infection disease control. Another $360,000 is cut from Georgia Epidemiology. But lawmakers are trying to still add more money to retention, recruitment, and small salary bumps to both departments.

Public health will be impacted. Funds slated to be cut from Georgia Poison Control Center, Hepatitis C, and STD programs as well. We also found $8,000 to $15,000 in cuts to each of the state's academies for pediatrics, family physicians, and the OB/GYN Society.

Those cuts lawmakers admit are all around painful.

Despite leading the state in COVID testing, we found Augusta University Health may not escape the squeeze. More than $100,000 cut from fellowships at AU, thousands axed from the AU Rural Surgery Initiative. Another $300,000 cut from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Psychiatric Services. More than $1 million cut from the Augusta University Cancer Center. Thousands more are being cut from the Adrenal Center.

But there's a glimmer of good news as the state is considering more than a million to expand a state partnership between AU and the University of Georgia.

It is important to note lawmakers said even before COVID, revenues in 2020 were already flat, which made the shutdown even more financially painful.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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