Political Insider

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

Letter: House GOP attempt to repeal Obamacare would punish Georgia

Some three weeks ago, three of the most influential Georgia players in the debate over health care sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (and presumably, U.S. Sen. David Perdue) raising concerns about the House Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare.

The funding formula the measure contains would put Georgia and other states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act at a permanent disadvantage. “By 2025, federal Medicaid spending in expansion states will be $1,936 per state resident compared to only $1,158 in non-expansion states,” the letter states – a 40 percent difference.

“Without the increased federal funding that comes with Medicaid expansion, health care providers in non-expansion states are left with all of the cuts, but none of the coverage,” according to the June 22 letter from the Georgia Hospital Association, the Georgia Chamber, and the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians.

One reason the letter may not have surfaced until now: Last May, every Republican member of the Georgia House delegation voted for H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act -- the bill that these three groups criticize.

“From a state standpoint, our main concern is our Medicaid program. As I have said before, we want to make sure we are not punished because we did not expand our Medicaid population,” he said, adding: “We want to be treated fairly.”

The letter has also given Isakson some maneuvering room, as we noted in Sunday’s column on Senate health care negotiations, which are due to pick up again on Tuesday:

We were 15 minutes into our lunchtime discussion when Johnny Isakson got to the crux of what Senate Republicans face this week when they renew their attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.


“You have do away with the individual mandate, and then define what the new individual mandate is,” Georgia’s senior senator said.


Put another way: With or without Obamacare, somebody will be telling you and me that we need to purchase health insurance, and that somebody must have the ability to punish us — in the wallet — if we do not.

Isakson also said he’d work to make permanent federal payments to charity hospitals – think Grady Memorial in Atlanta – that are slated to expire, under a faulty assumption that universal Medicaid expansion would make the payments unnecessary.

That was another requirement made in the letter, which you can read in full below:


In Sunday’s column, we told you about U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s plan to hold his first in-person town hall of the year in August. In the meantime, his staff just sent word of a telephone town hall on Tuesday evening. The Q&A is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

To attend, you need to click here to subscribe by 5 p.m. today. You’ll get a phone call tomorrow at the number you leave. Individuals unable to participate via telephone can still listen to the call online via this link: https://vekeo.com/senatorisakson/

The link will allow you to livestream the call and submit questions electronically.


Administrators at Columbus State University quickly discovered the pitfall of creating a "safe space" initiative on campus. They ran afoul of a prominent Republican who doesn't like them.

The school shuttered the program, which involved fliers distributed to denote rooms that were a "safe space" to allow students to talk about their concerns, shortly after it was launched in the middle of the spring 2017 semester.

The safe spaces were immediately noted by Fox News and other conservative news outlets -- which caught the attention of state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, who chairs the higher education appropriations committee in the House. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that he fired off an email to John Lester, a CSU vice president, calling the program 'ill named." More from the Ledger-Enquirer:

But he said in the email that he was especially concerned with projects that purport to promote diversity on campus. He said the terms diversity and inclusion in the campus context “have no bearing on the actual dictionary definition. They are words to hide the utter bigotry and non-inclusiveness of the academics who use them.”

He told the newspaper he wasn't singling out the university, which he said does a "better job than most."  He added:

“I think the university did right by going on and changing what they were talking about. Anybody can be a counselor for anyone who is going through a difficult time. Imagine if you provided counseling to a young Christian individual … a lot of these leftists on campus would rather you provide counseling to a terrorist than a young Christian. What Columbus has done is say this is inclusive now for everyone,” he said.


“That’s the problem I have with these safe spaces, they’re full of people who are so weak, they can’t have their ideas challenged.”


Secretary of State Brian Kemp is running into criticism from Democratic sources for his decision to give publicly available data to a voting “integrity” commission established by President Donald Trump. His response comes via a press release:

Under state law, parts of the voter registration rolls are public. Through a simple request, any individual can get a copy of the state-wide voter file after paying $250. During the last 18 months alone, over 600 groups have taken advantage of this service provided by our office.

Kemp even goes so far as to name some of the groups that have received the data – but click here for the entire list:

  • Advancement Project

  • Atlanta Regional Commission

  • Bryan Cave LLP

  • Catalist

  • DataTrust

  • Emory University

  • Harvard University

  • Judicial Watch

  • Landmark Communications

  • ProGeorgia

  • Southern Center for Human Rights

  • Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • The Center for American Progress

  • The Democratic Party of Georgia

  • The Georgia Republican Party

  • The Libertarian Party of Georgia

  • The New Georgia Project

  • The New York Times

  • The University of Georgia

  • The University of Notre Dame


Republican Rick Jeffares will file a fundraising report later tody showing he's raised about $350,000 in roughly 30 days since entering the race for lieutenant governor. The state senator is among three Republicans who have filed to run for the seat: Senate Pro Tem David Shafer and state Rep. Geoff Duncan are also in the contest.


Forbes magazine reports that Brenda Fitzgerald, the head of the state’s Department of Public Health who was tapped to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once peddled “anti-aging medicine” that one doctor described as “snake oil.” From their article detailing Fitzgerald’s time in private practice:

Among her credentials listed on the website: board certification in "Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine" by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. However, the American Board of Medical Specialties, made up  of the specialty boards that certify physicians, doesn't recognize the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), which promotes the use of "intravenous nutritional therapy," "bioidentical hormone replacement therapy" (BHRT) and "pellet therapy," in which tiny pellets that contain hormones are placed under the skin.

Meanwhile, the investigative news site The Intercept details the anti-childhood obesity initiative Fitzgerald and the state of Georgia once embarked on with the financial help of Coca-Cola.


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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.