Hudgens’ obstructionism hurts uninsured and taxpayers
by Kevin Foley
September 06, 2013 01:39 AM | 2092 views | 5 5 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If you are one of the estimated 2 million Georgians without health insurance you need to know that Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens wants you to stay that way.

According to a published report, Hudgens recently told a Republican crowd in Floyd County his department was doing “everything in our power to be an obstructionist” in implementing the Affordable Care Act.

It’s no mystery where Hudgens stands on Obamacare, but for the commissioner to openly admit his duplicity is surprising for an elected official who is sworn to uphold the law.

Gov. Nathan Deal insists he won’t expand Medicaid and he has refused to set up a state-run on-line health insurance exchange where uninsured Georgians can purchase policies that fit their needs. As I have noted in past columns, taxpayers in states embracing these programs are reaping enormous benefits.

In Arizona, ultra conservative Gov. Jan Brewer expanded Medicaid, correctly explaining to voters on her web site the plan, “pumps billions of dollars into our economy, protects hospitals, and keeps Arizona tax dollars in Arizona.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York launched a state-run exchange in which finance officials there invited 17 health insurers compete for the business of New York’s 2.6 million uninsured. The result is 2014 rates as much as 50 percent less than 2013 rates.

Question: Why are these governors acting while Deal contemplates his navel?

Answer: Brewer, Cuomo and other governors implementing Obamacare see the big picture: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Here’s a personal example of how that works: Ten years ago my doctor, who I see regularly because I have health insurance, told me I had high blood pressure. She prescribed an inexpensive medication I take daily to control the condition.

Now, let’s say I didn’t have health insurance so I didn’t go to the doctor for check-ups because I couldn’t afford the cost. My hypertension goes untreated for 10 years and I have a stroke. I end up at Kennestone Hospital’s emergency room where I must be treated even if I can’t pay for the care. I run up a $100,000 tab and you pick it up in the form of local taxes and higher insurance premiums.

Brewer calls it a “hidden tax.” That’s why she expanded Medicaid in her state. Low income Arizonans can get preventative care that detects serious illnesses early to avoid the exorbitant cost of treating advanced conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease later. Arizona’s tax payers are now off the hook for that care.

State-run health insurance exchanges are likewise a no-brainer except in Georgia and other hard core Red States. Uninsured Georgians will have to use the federally run health insurance exchange where they won’t find the kind of lower rates New Yorkers will enjoy.

Starting Oct. 1, when Georgians log onto the exchange they’ll find “navigators,” experts to guide them through their various options. Hudgens, with help from the legislature, is deliberately sabotaging this process, requiring these navigators to pass the state’s insurance agent test.

Despite Hudgens machinations, uninsured Georgians are expected to flock to the federal exchange because, under Obamacare, insurers can no longer refuse people with pre-existing conditions. And depending on household income, they can qualify for tax credits to be applied directly to the cost of plan premiums when they enroll.

Meanwhile, the Department of Community Health’s board chairman and Deal appointee Norman Boyd is disingenuously complaining about the $128 million it will cost to implement Obamacare in Georgia, telling an interviewer, “I think that’s a significant amount of money and (I’m) not sure what we’re getting in return for that.”

Boyd knows the answer is nothing — at least until Gov. Deal implements Obamacare.

Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Mike Woodliff
September 07, 2013
You've written two columns dealing with AHC in recent weeks. I'm not trying to pick a fight, but have you gotten a quote on the cost of the plans available in the exchanges?

Even with the government subsidy, most people won't purchase those plans. I checked on one for Blue Cross. $10,000 deductible, $30 office visit for three visits then subject to the deductible. For a 36 year old single male with an income of $30,000 per year, the monthly premium is over $60. Now, that sounds cheap, but nobody is really looking at the plans that are being offered. They aren't worth the money. And we haven't even touched on the pharmaceutical aspects of this legislation.

Perhaps it would be better if the government offered you a subsidy so that you can continue to buy a group plan.

I was in the employee benefits business for 35 years and have a small understanding of human nature and I promise you, this is a disaster in the wings. People just won't purchase the insurance. Additionally, the fines for not having insurance are virtually uncollectible. Even those who pay the fine, will find them less expensive than the cost of a high deductible, low benefit insurance plan.

I know many people who have incomes low enough so that they don't even file taxes. Now just how is the government going to enforce these rules?

The AHC act should never have passed congress. The solutions to the issues of health care could have been solved without such draconian action from congress.

Now, we've created this monstrosity and have to figure out a way to pay for it and then learn to live with its increasing costs and reduced benefits.

I truly wish the administration had been more forthright and honest in its approach. Their goal is national healthcare with a single payer. That being the case, the last four years should have been spent trying to make that happen instead of promoting this monstrous 3000 pages of legislation that nobody completely understands.

We will rue the day we allowed this to happen. It isn't even near completion and it's already creating massive problems.

While I appreciate your interest in this issue, I think you are way off base on your interpretation of its effect.
Eugene Williams
September 06, 2013
Obamacare is the worst piece of legislative garbage that our country has ever produced – bar none! We all remember the shenanigans they had to use to gather up enough votes to pass this law. This piece of junk legislation was passed with not a single member that voted for it having the time to even fully read the proposed legislation, was only narrowly passed by basically bribing certain states to vote for it i.e. the Louisiana Purchase to buy Senator Mary Landrieu’s vote, the Cornhusker Kickback to get Nebraska to go along, many others bought off along the way. Nancy Pelosi telling the country “We have to pass the Bill first to find out what’s in it” – what an incredible statement! No wonder the Amercian people have lost faith in our elected leaders. What a poor way for a great nation such as ours to conduct it business! The part that saddens me the most however is how it is turning into a major jobs killer for our country – so bad even the labor unions despise it! The hardworking families all across this country losing their full time jobs directly because of this crack pot legislation – truly sad!! Today we had another dismal jobs report that many see as both directly and indirectly tied to Obamacare – The Great Job Killing Legislation! This Medicaid money you seem to lust after is just another bribe from the Feds and will leave these naïve states holding the bag down the road when the Feds pull back on their monetary support. Wise up Kevin!
Laura Armstrong
September 06, 2013
Schilling for Obamacare again to detract from the sinking Titanic that's Obama's Syrian debacle.

Remember Benghazi on 9-11 and ask yourself this: How is it that Obama is so sure about who to help in Syria when he can't produce the answers on Benghazi? For him, it's still about an American citizen's homemade video. And we're supposed to accept his goofs?
September 07, 2013
Laura, I would've bet my continually shrinking paycheck that Foley steered very, very clear of Syria. Society is becoming so wussified and Kevin is part of the problem. He wouldn't know accountability if it whacked him upside the head. Instead of plunging head first into a global problem that 'the anointed one' is flubbing on a daily basis, he tries to divert the attention to another colossal FUBAR. Obamacare. Heck, even Chris Matthews took a shot at his beloved Barack.

I've noticed that Foley just continues to write the same regurgitated crap and puts his blind-eye spin on it. He then scours the other columnists and letters to the editor and posts immature, name-calling comments. He really is a school yard bully and I keep wondering when the MDJ is going to wise up and see that his act has grown tired. He offers nothing constructive...he's just rude and condescending. You don't see the other columnists on in and day out...belittling and attacking anyone who doesn't agree with them. Hasn't Foley worn out his welcome?
September 06, 2013
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