Political Insider

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

An AMA split over Tom Price's nomination as the anti-Obamacare czar

A former lawyer for the American Medical Association has been assigned by Donald Trump’s transition team to shepherd Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price through the Senate confirmation process.

It is Berry's status as a former AMA counsel that raises the eyebrows. The New York Times reports that the nation's largest medical organization is split over Price's nomination:

Seven years ago, the A.M.A.’s support helped lift President Obama’s health care proposals toward passage, and the group has backed the law, with some reservations, since its adoption in 2010. But as Republicans push for its dismantlement, deep disagreements within the A.M.A., which has long wielded tremendous power in Washington, could lessen its influence.


The concerns voiced by dissident doctors do not appear to imperil Senate confirmation of Mr. Price, but they do ensure that his confirmation hearings next month will be as contentious as any held for a Trump nominee, featuring a full public examination of the new president’s proposed health policies.


“Doctors are divided big time,” said Dr. Carl G. Streed Jr., a primary care doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a member of the A.M.A. house of delegates, the organization’s principal policy-making body.

Democrats are promising to delve into the details of Price’s financial history after the Wall Street Journal recently reported he traded more than $300,000 in health-related stocks while pushing legislation on Capitol Hill that could have had an impact on those businesses’ bottom lines.


He's not two months into his job, but already Attorney General Chris Carr is following a path laid out by his GOP predecessor, Sam Olens.

In one of his first policy decisions since taking office, Carr has joined counterparts in 24 other (mostly red)  states to urge Donald Trump to repeal new water regulations once he's in the White House.

The letter sent Monday contends that the Obama administration's 2015 clean water rules are one of the Democratic president's "most ambitious expansions of federal power" and that they should be immediately rescinded.

"We believe in fiercely protecting our citizens against unlawful federal overreach, and we will continue working with those who share this mutual concern to bring these matters to President-elect Donald Trump’s attention for quick resolution," Carr said in a statement.

The new rules allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to regulate tributaries to rivers and streams under the Clean Water Act. Environment. Carr's office calculates that 57 percent of Georgia’s streams, amounting to 39,986 miles of flowing water, would fall under that umbrella.

Environmental groups and other supporters said the rules restore protections to streams and other waterways that have historically been protected. The Obama move has been blocked by a federal court order while a judge considers the legal case.

Over the last eight years, concerted court action by attorneys general in Republican-dominated states has become a tested GOP tactic for opposing programs and regulations laid out by President Barack Obama.

With with Trump in the White House, you can expect Republicans to phase out the practice. And Democrats to pick it up.


Kathleen Foody of the Associated Press reports that Gov. Nathan Deal and other GOP leaders in the state Capitol intend to move quickly to extend an annual tax on hospitals that covers a large share of state health care expenses when lawmakers return to the Capitol in January:

A spokesman for Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle said recently that the Republican will "encourage early action."


"He recognizes the critical role of the provider fee in keeping Georgia's hospitals and patients healthy," Cagle spokesman Adam Sweat said. "Inaction is not an option and would put our hospitals, especially those in rural areas, in financial trouble, jeopardizing access to care for Georgians."


Getting a bill to Deal's desk soon after the session begins on Jan. 9 avoids any political snags, like in 2013 when a national group led by Grover Norquist equated an extension to a tax hike. Republican legislators feared the political implications but didn't want to lose the funding crucial to hospitals that treat Medicaid patients.


Here's more on the budding fight, from an interview with Georgia Senate Majority Leader David Shafer and House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams a few weeks ago.


Over at the Georgia Times-Union, Terry Dickson reports that Georgia shrimpers have won an extra 13 days to flex their nets:

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams made the decision to extend the season that normally closes Dec. 31 based on the abundance and size of shrimp caught in survey trawls in Georgia waters, the DNR said in a release.


House Speaker Paul Ryan and his deputies are looking to slap members of Congress with fines and other penalties if they disrupt proceedings on the House floor, a belated response to the sit-in led by Atlanta Democrat John Lewis earlier this year. Here’s more from Bloomberg:

Under the proposed new rules package, which was seen by Bloomberg, members could face a $500 fine through deductions to their paychecks for a first offense of using electronic photography or audio or visual recording, as well as for broadcasting from the chamber’s floor. A $2,500 fine would be leveled for the next such offense and each subsequent violation.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard from House leaders about potentially punishing the Democrats who participated in the headline-grabbing incident. Lewis so far has shrugged.

But note that House Republicans have settled on wage garnishment as their avenue of choice. Presumably, that's intended to prevent acts of protests from becoming GoFundMe causes.


Martha Zoller, the former congressional candidate who is now a top aide to Sen. David Perdue, made Politico's Playbook this morning with a New Year's resolution:

Martha Zoller, state policy director for Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.): "To write actual handwritten notes to people, put my phone down more and succeed in the development of my dissertation on GOP women's electoral success."

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.