The problem is Obamacare. We've got to now determine what we can do to solve that problem. Let me tell you what we're doing: Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.
— Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, to a meeting of Floyd County Republicans
IT'S NOT QUITE at the level of former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox standing in the door with an axe handle in 1964 refusing to let black people into his restaurant.
But what current Gov. Nathan Deal and his colleagues in state government are doing to nullify federal law in 2013 is just about as scandalous.
What's perhaps even more scandalous is the passive complacency of those Georgia residents who still refuse to see the level of corruption going on in their state government, and how it impacts their lives directly.
On Oct. 1, the main phase of the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," becomes fully operative in Georgia in the form of an insurance exchange, i.e., an insurance market, to provide coverage to the uninsured as required by federal law.
Because the state government opted out of creating that mandatory exchange — Obamacare being a "Trojan Horse full of socialists," according to Deal — the feds are going to do it instead.
One of the features of Obamacare — a complicated, very imperfect hybrid of free enterprise and statist bureaucracy — is the creation of "navigators," people whose job it is to help people sort out the array of subsidized insurance options now suddenly available on the new exchanges.
As part of its official policy of obstructionism, the Deal administration has made it so that any "navigators" must essentially be licensed as insurance agents in Georgia.
Here's the kicker: That's actually against the law.
But what your elected leaders are doing to skirt the law is simply requiring navigators to pass the same test that an actual insurance agent must pass.
"Basically, you take the insurance agents' test, you erase the name, you write 'navigator test' on there," Hudgens boasted to the same group, who laughed in response.
That may sound fairly harmless, even defensible on one level. But make no mistake: You can trace a direct line from Georgia's obstructionism on Obamacare back to the old poll taxes and literacy tests this state once used to keep African Americans from exercising their right to vote.
The principle is the same: Unfairly raise the bar for a particular, targeted group so that you can sidestep a federal law intended to help the disadvantaged and level the playing field.
As usual with the Deal administration, follow the money. An entire Political Action Committee (PAC) was created specifically to fund Deal's effort to obstruct Obamacare.
Called Real PAC, the group has taken in about a million dollars in donations since its inception after Obamacare's passage, most of it from the health-care industry. Some of its donors include Aetna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana, Pfizer, and Wellcare.
(WellCare's $50,000 check came literally on the same day state Medicaid officials extended the company's billion dollar annual contract. That, my friends, is possibly the best $50K ever spent in the history of money.)
It was also recently revealed that Real PAC has failed to disclose over $300,000 in donations. While it is registered with the IRS, it has so far neglected to file any annual tax returns to the IRS, as required.
I've written several times before about your governor's jaw-dropping level of corruption and blatant cronyism. He's no different with regards to health care.
What does Real PAC do with the money? A couple of examples:
• It paid $30,000 to a fundraising firm founded by Deal's daughter-in-law, Denise.
• It paid its own secretary, Ken Cronan, who also co-owned a Gainesville salvage yard with Deal, more than $10,000 in "pilot and plane expenses."
In other times this would be called what it is: a slush fund. In addition to Real PAC's sketchy efforts to undermine federal law, it's also laundering personal donations to Deal.
This is your governor. This is who is running for reelection next year.
Lest you think this is knee-jerk Republican-bashing, I'm well aware that Nathan Deal spent most of his political career as a Democrat before switching parties.
And lest you think I've quaffed the Kool-Aid about Obamacare, I've written many times that nationalizing health care through the private insurance sector will do nothing to control skyrocketing costs, the actual problem with health care in this country.
The Obama administration early on accepted the insurance industry's insistence that the new law require everyone to purchase insurance, reason being that no insurance company could survive the payouts for people who only sign up the day they find out they're sick.
That was the Obama administration's rationale for forcing us all to buy insurance, but it was also my rationale for opposing it:
The profit motive is important, but shouldn't be the main driver of something as important as health care law.
It's not what I wanted either. But the die is cast. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, or the Trojan Horse full of socialists, or whatever you want to call it, is the settled law of the land.
It's time for the Deal administration to get out of the way and let the law try and do its Supreme Court-approved job of helping the nearly one million Georgians without insurance, a job the governor refuses to do.
And maybe, just maybe, it's time for Georgia voters to demand at least a shred of integrity from their elected officials.
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