Hi, I’m Jeff Auerbach (pronounced “our-back”), and I’m running for office to help fix the things we can. I want my children and yours to grow up in the best world possible – and to be as proud to be a Georgian as I am.
I was born and raised here in the Peach State, and I live in a busy household with my wife, two young daughters and three dogs in Athens. Since I’ve lived in our recently redrawn District for more than seven years, I’ve come to know and appreciate the issues important to our community.
I’m a visiting assistant professor of political science at Emory University–Oxford College, and I’m also a founding partner of Left Hand Math LLC, a digital marketing data analytics firm, where I serve as Head of Data Analytics. In addition, I’m the president-elect of the Rotary Club of the Classic City, and I’m an active member of Congregation Children of Israel in Athens. I hold a Ph.D. in political science from UGA, where I focused my studies on political economics and public health. I’m running for office because I believe in creating practical solutions for the real problems that impact the everyday lives of Georgians. I’m interested in working together to fix what we can to make the lives of everyone better.
See the policy areas I would like to work on for you below.
End “Benefit Cliffs” for Hardworking Georgians
Strict income limits for government assistance are often called “benefit cliffs.” As soon as an individual’s or family’s income reaches a set limit, benefits are completely cut off. It’s not uncommon for people who go from unemployment to work, or even those who get small raises at work, to lose benefits that far exceed any increases to their income. These benefit cliffs can prevent hardworking Georgians from climbing out of poverty.
While government policy should encourage people to work and advance, benefit cliffs do just the opposite. They actually discourage people from working and penalize advancement. Many benefits programs – from Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) nutritional aid to PeachCare for Kids – have strict income cutoffs. These cutoffs can result in families falling further behind if a member accepts a promotion, works longer hours or takes a second job.
By gradually phasing out the amount of assistance as incomes rise – rather than having it abruptly end – we can make it easier for beneficiaries to work their way off benefit rolls. This would truly be a win–win situation for Georgia. It would save the state taxpayers’ money while improving the lives of many of our fellow citizens.
Restore Fathers’ Legitimation at Birth
Our courts are overburdened. So much of what we put onto them could be fixed to cut red tape, reduce the time anyone must deal with them and lighten their overwhelming caseloads.
Here in Georgia, if a child is born to parents who are not legally married, the father does not automatically enjoy parental rights, but must petition the courts for what’s called “legitimation.” This is true even if the father is listed on the birth certificate! This forces fathers who want to do the right thing to either petition a court for legitimation or go through an adoption procedure to adopt their own child. In addition to being discriminatory, this policy creates thousands of additional cases that congest our already overburdened court system.
While supporters of legitimation argue that it encourages marriage and stable families, it just plain doesn’t. Instead, it discourages fathers from accepting their proper role. It can force parents into unstable marriages because they can’t afford the legal fees for court legitimation.
Restoring legitimation at the time of birth with the automatic recognition of paternal rights would lift a significant burden from the court system, allow fathers to be fathers without having to go through a legal process, and encourage fathers to take true responsibility for their children.
Enact State Reinsurance Program to Lower Health Insurance Premiums for All Georgians
State-based reinsurance programs provide compensation to insurance companies to help offset the costs of enrolling higher-risk patients. These programs have been used in other states to significantly lower the cost of health insurance for those who pay higher premiums and receive the greatest benefits. In addition, they lower costs by reducing the risk for insurers (the greater the risk, the higher the premiums), attracting new insurers (who compete by lowering prices), and by limiting volatility in the market (which also drives up prices). These programs allow for more competition and better pricing without requiring large, additional government programs.
Expand Medicaid, Insure Thousands More Georgians
There is no single program that would help more Georgians than the expansion of Medicaid. The recent expansion of post-partum Medicaid is an amazing start, but we cannot stop there. Further expansion would tangibly improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Georgians living in poverty and help provide them with an easier and healthier pathway to a better life.
Georgia is among the worst hit states for rural hospital closures – nine have closed since 2010 – and Medicaid expansion would be instrumental in saving Georgia’s remaining rural facilities. Put in its simplest form: Hospitals are closing because patients without insurance cannot pay for services, and rural areas often do not have enough insured patients who can offset those costs.
There is a common misconception that taxpayers already pay for medical care for uninsured patients. Georgians without health insurance are often unable to afford routine healthcare, including their medications. They are much more likely to use the emergency room as a substitute for routine healthcare, so they have far more emergency room visits than those with insurance. In addition, they generally are unable to pay for these services. Hospitals must either absorb these costs at a loss or pass them on to other patients through higher costs of treatment.
Here’s one example of a benefit from Medicaid expansion: when Kentucky expanded Medicaid, the treatment for substance abuse increased by 700%. Less drug abuse would mean more Georgians working and supporting their families, and less crime to support their addiction.
Georgia misses out on $3 billion of Federal dollars each year due to the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid. This money could help stabilize our rural healthcare system, reduce insurance costs for insured Georgians, and improve and expand the availability of healthcare throughout the state. It would also create 64,000 new good-paying jobs for Georgians.
Expansion of Medicaid is not only a moral issue to help those among us who need it the most; it’s an economic issue that ultimately saves money, saves lives, and creates jobs.
Work with State Department of Agriculture and USDA to Allow Sale of Feral Hog Meat
Feral hogs are found in all 159 Georgia counties and pose a threat to people, the environment and the state’s agricultural industry. While there is currently no bag limit for these dangerous and invasive animals, the regulations on the use of their meat are wasteful and illogical. These regulations prevent the donation of feral hog meat in the same way that excess deer meat can be donated, eliminating thousands of pounds of edible meat each year while discouraging the lawful hunting of this species.
By creating a system for testing, processing, and donating hog meat, we could supply food banks, shelters, and even culinary arts training programs around the state. This is a win-win for Georgia hunters, environmentalists, and our fellow citizens in need of safe food as well as jobs skills training programs.