Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Nathan Deal: Tighten access to hospital emergency rooms

Gov. Nathan Deal has often called on Congress to reconsider the Affordable Care Act. But on Monday evening, he pushed his former Washington colleagues to revisit a separate health care law that fewer politicians openly critique.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act is a 1986 law that requires hospitals to provide emergency health care treatment to anyone who needs it, regardless of citizenship or their ability to pay. It's provided life-saving care to countless people, but it's also strained hospital resources and turned emergency rooms into the first stop, instead of a last resort, for some.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog

"If they really want to get serious about lowering the cost of health care in this country, they would revisit another federal statute that has been there for a long time," Deal told a crowd of dozens at a University of Georgia political science alumni gathering. "It came as a result of bad facts, and we have a saying that bad facts make bad law."

Legislative supporters in the 1980s cited cases of pregnant women being turned away from emergency rooms because they couldn't pay. Deal, who long served on a key House health panel, said lawmakers can build in protections for pregnant women and others while tightening access to ERs in other ways. Said the governor:

"I think we should be able in this passage of time to figure out ways to deal with those situations but not have the excessive costs associated with unnecessary visits to the emergency room."

This is an important topic for Deal, given that many hospitals in rural Georgia are caught in the financial pinch caused by the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid rolls, and the Affordable Care Act’s reduction of federal cash for indigent care.


Governor Deal has conducted a delicate dance with Common Core, the education guidelines that his Republican predecessor helped set in motion.

Deal supported the program initially, but last year called for the state Board of Education to review the state's participation amid growing pushback from tea party types and other critics.

But at the same event Monday, the governor seemed to lament the controversy stoked by conservatives who see Common Core as a federal takeover of education:

"It's unfortunate that that has diverted so much time and attention when I think we could have spent our efforts and resources perhaps more focused on advancing education."

He went on to note that Common Core doesn't stray into more controversial subjects, such as social studies:

"We've only adopted in two areas. One is math. Now I don't know that there's a federal math and if there's a Georgia math. I have a hard time figuring that one out. The other is language arts. I know we talk differently than they do in other parts of the country, but a sentence is a sentence, and it has its components, and people ought to know how to write a sentence and compose a paragraph. I have a hard time seeing the political implications of the two."


Speaking of education: Former Hall County commissioner Ashley Bell this morning announced his GOP candidacy for state school superintendent in a conversation with Tim Bryant and Martha Zoller on WGAU (1340AM) in Athens. He’s banking on north Georgia support to make it into the runoff made necessary by a crowded GOP field.

Bell said his top priority as school superintendent would be to fix a school grading system that he says is rigged:

“It’s on a basis of zero to a hundred. Ninety’s an ‘A,’ eighty is a ‘B.’ The reality is, is that there’s been 10 points hidden in that system to buff and fluff up schools’ grades. It’s actually on a scale of 110 instead of 100.

“So our parents will go on that website, trying to determine which school to go to, and looking at some schools that look like a ‘C,’ when they’re actually a ‘D.’ Some schools look like a ‘B,’ but they’re actually a ‘C.’ They’re not being upfront. This scale is skewed.”


The Club For Growth, a deep-pocketed conservative group focused on fiscal issues, is out with its annual scorecard of members of Congress. And unlike National Journal, this one is in line with the prevailing view of the Georgia Senate race: Paul Broun wins the race to the right.


In the Club scorecard – which often challenges Republicans to vote against leadership wishes, as in the case of the Farm Bill – Broun scored 97 percent last year and has a lifetime score of 99 percent. For the other two Senate candidates, you can call it the “Broun effect:” their Club scores were higher than average last year.

Phil Gingrey’s 93 percent score was above his lifetime average of 86 percent and Jack Kingston’s 87 percent beat his lifetime 83 percent.

The Club has been coy about whether it will drop a big independent media buy into Georgia before the May 20 primary. One theory is it could not support any one candidate, but could mount an attack on someone it doesn’t like. Such as Kingston. But the Club’s targets typically rate far worse than a B+.


Bloomberg’s Kate Hunter delivers another national media take on the Senate race from Gainesville. In addition to the obligatory Todd Akin references, Hunter reports that Broun has a new metaphor for the federal government:

“Standing on the bed of a white pickup truck, Broun, who supports abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education, likened the federal government to a dragon and pledged to ‘put it back in its cage.’

“‘The cage bars are the enumerated powers of the Constitution, and I will not rest until we put that dragon back in the cage where it belongs -- forever,’ he said to cheers and applause.”

The story reports that Sandy Springs Mayor and former Georgia GOP chairman Rusty Paul is backing Jack Kingston and makes note of some of Michelle Nunn’s more interesting fundraising sources:

“Georgia business leaders with a record of backing Republicans have been writing checks to Nunn. They include John Wieland, founder of John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods Inc.; Jim Cox Kennedy, the chairman of Atlanta-based communications company Cox Enterprises Inc.; and Tom Cousins, a developer who helped shape downtown Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Expect a Wall Street Journal look at Broun and his fellow Senate candidates in the near future. A reporter with that organization was at Saturday’s debate.


Speaking of which: Art Gardner, the Republican attorney from Atlanta who is attempting to pry his party from the grip of social conservatives, says remarks he made regarding illegal immigration at Saturday’s Gainesville debate are being misconstrued. Says Gardner in a note:

“There are reports out there that state that I said I am in favor of requiring military service for all illegal aliens.  This is untrue.  What I said at the debate in Gainesville was that only through military service would an illegal gain citizenship.  (The vast majority of illegals would not.)  But they would have to register and pay taxes to stay.”

Gardner provided this link to a (Korean) video of the debate. His response on illegal immigration can be found at about the 46:30 mark.


Many people have asked what Michelle Nunn has been up to while not appearing on stages with her Democratic primary rivals. She has been collecting names. Important names, often with large wallets.

The Nunn campaign on Monday released the membership of its “business leaders advisory group” – essentially a listing of the candidate’s corporate support. From the list:

Claire Lewis Arnold, CEO, Leapfrog Services, Inc.

J. Veronica Biggins, Managing Partner, Diversified Research

Becky Blalock, Managing Partner, Advisory Capital

Arthur M. Blank, The Blank family of Businesses

Genevieve Bos, CEO, IdeaString

Charles Brewer, Managing Partner, Las Catalinas

Matt M. Bronfman, CEO, Jamestown

Martha Finn Brooks, Corporate Director, Former President & COO of Novelis

Thomas G. Cousins, Chairman, CF Foundation

Ann W. Cramer, Senior Consultant, Coxe Curry & Associates

Jesse C. Crawford, President & CEO, Crawford Media Services, Inc.

Bobbie Culbreath, President, Regen-Leigh: Art and Design Consultants

Larry Dorfman, Chairman/CEO, Automobile Protection Corp. (APCO)

William DuPont, President, THINK Interactive, Inc.

Gail Evans, Adjunct Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology, Bestselling Author and Former Executive VP at CNN

Reade Fahs, CEO, National Vision, Inc.

Duriya Farooqi, Principal, Bain & Company

J. Rex Fuqua, CEO, Fuqua Capital

Kelly Gay, President & CEO, Omnilink, Inc.

Jim Geiger, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Cbeyond

Greg Giornelli, President & COO, Purpose Built Communities

Lillian Cousins Giornelli, President, CF Foundation

Robert C. Glustrom, CEO, RCG Holdings

Dave Gould, Partner, TechOperators Venture Capital

Jim Grien, President & CEO, TM Capital Corp.

Daniel Halpern, CEO, Jackmont Hospitality

Phil Harrison, CEO, Perkins & Will

Jeff Hilimire, CEO & Co-Founder, Dragon Army

John P. Imlay, Jr., Chairman, Imlay Investments, Inc.

Ben F. Johnson III, Retired Managing Partner, Alston & Bird LLP

Wyatt Thomas Johnson, Jr., Chairman Emeritus, LBJ Foundation; Retired CEO, CNN

Ingrid Saunders Jones, Chair, National Council of Negro Women

Jeff Levy, CEO & Co-Founder, OfficeHours

Charles Lipman, CEO, DiversiTech Corporation

Mary A. Madden, Co-Founder & Chapter Chair, Women Corporate Directors

Mary Moore, Founder & CEO The Cook’s Warehouse

I. Sigmund Mosley, Jr., Vice Chairman, Imlay Investments, Inc.

Susan Nethero, Founder/CEO Emerita and Board Member, Intimacy Retail Sales

Vicki Palmer, Retired Executive Vice President, Coca-Cola Enterprises

Egbert Perry, Chairman & CEO, The Integral Group

David Peterson, Chairman Emeritus, North Highland

Luis Manuel Ramirez, President & CEO, Global Power Equipment Group

Wendell Reilly, Chairman, Berman Capital Advisors

John G. Rice, Vice Chairman, GE

Roy Richards, Chairman of the Board, Southwire

A.J. Robinson, President, Central Atlanta Progress

Teresa Wynn Roseborough, Executive VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, The Home Depot

H. Jerome Russell, President, H.J. Russell & Company

Michael Russell, CEO, H.J. Russell & Company

Louise S. Sams, Executive VP & General Counsel, Turner Broadcasting

R.K. Sehgal, Chairman, SFC Energy

Geri P. Thomas, President, Bank of America Georgia

Evan Toporek, CEO, Alternative Apparel

Ed Trimble, President, Kevy

Felker W. Ward, Jr.,  CEO, Pinnacle Investment Advisors

Carl Ware, Retired Executive Vice President, Coca-Cola

A. Ray Weeks, Jr., Chairman, Weeks Robinson Properties

John Wieland, CEO, Chattahoochee Enterprises, LLC


With Eugene Yu dropping out of the U.S. Senate race and into the GOP primary for the 12th Congressional District, we now have at least five candidates in race to oust U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta.

One of them, former congressional staffer John Stone, is pitching a solution. He’s called for an emergency Republican caucus to be held in the 12th, to anoint a candidate ahead of next week’s qualifying period.

From the press release:

“We lost this seat in 2012 under the same primary race conditions we now find ourselves facing today, and John Barrow has to be cackling in delight over the developments of the last two weeks,” says Stone.

 Stone says the current field of five candidates greatly increases the likelihood of a Republican runoff on July 22 instead of having a nominee on May 21.   “Barrow is running unopposed, so he will be politically unscathed with millions in the bank heading into the general election while we will have spent millions in another brutal primary and be penniless on July 23.”

Reader Comments ...