“It is my hope that this committee will construct the appropriate avenues for our state to implement our own exchange.”
Gov. Deal issued that statement in support of creating a Georgia health care exchange on June 2, 2011 as he created the Georgia Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee.
The entire purpose of this committee, according to the headline of the governor’s press release, was to “study the establishment of a state-based health care exchange.”
But Gov. Deal lost hope fast.
In fact, Gov. Deal’s hope to create an exchange in Georgia began to fade as fast as money poured into Real PAC.
Over the next year, health insurance companies and others fighting to keep the old system of sky-high insurance premiums funneled more than half a million dollars into Real PAC — up to $50,000 at a time.
- April 25, 2012 – United Health Care – $50,000 donation to Real PAC
- August 17, 2012 – Wellcare – $50,000 donation to Real PAC
- October 31, 2012 – Blue Cross Blue Shield – $25,000 donation to Real PAC
- November 16, 2012 – Gov. Deal abandons plans for a GA health exchange
And then, only after insurance companies and others helped Real PAC grow into a nearly $1 million fund, Gov. Deal decided he didn’t want to create a lower-cost health exchange after all. In fact, now he’s even fighting the Federal online marketplace that will allow individuals and small business owners to quickly compare the quality and cost of health plans.
Gov. Deal is obstructing a law that will allow people with pre-existing conditions to finally purchase health insurance for the first time at the same cost as everyone else.
Better Georgia is not alone in finding Gov. Deal’s political about-face to be dangerous for the state.
This weekend, Dr. Ford Vox, a medical doctor at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, penned a column for Bloomberg news: “Georgia’s Dangerous War Against Obamacare.”
Dr. Vox remembers when Gov. Deal supported the health exchange, before he was against it:
“So who, exactly, are Georgia’s top officials really fighting for? Perhaps it is the donors to Real PAC — a political action committee named after Governor Nathan Deal’s campaign slogan (“Deal. Real.”) and funded by some of the state’s biggest health insurers, hospitals and nursing home associations.
What’s funny is that Georgia’s governor was for state-based health-insurance exchanges before he was against them. In the summer of 2011, when Deal started an exploratory committee to investigate how Georgia could set up its own exchange, he declared that it was his “hope” that the committee would find a way for the state to do so. His change of heart came in November 2012, after Real PAC started raking in large donations from the health-care industry.”
Read the entire Bloomberg column. If you care about quality, affordable health care in Georgia, the column is worth your time.
Gov. Deal’s decision to embrace Tea Party policy by abandoning the health exchange left moderate Republicans in the cold. In fact, Republican leaders from the General Assembly had already drafted Legislation to create an exchange run by Georgians for Georgians.
Gov. Deal said ‘no.’
His sudden turn to the radical right-wing of the Republican Party was lined with corporate cash and crass political pandering.
And so today nearly 1.5 million Georgians who would be eligible for some form of improved health care access under the Affordable Care Act are being slowed down or shut out as Gov. Deal stands in the hospital door.
Even though Obamacare is now law, Gov. Deal “is leading the bandwagon of largely Southern state leaders in blocking implementation of the health-care law.”
This is a shameful decision. And it’s bad policy for our state.