Political Insider

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

The Jolt: On health care, Republicans say offense is the best defense


Stacey Abrams has put Medicaid expansion in Georgia at the core of her gubernatorial campaign. But elsewhere, some Democrats are embracing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ call for a single-payer system.

Which Republicans have begun using to shield themselves from accusations that they are trying to sink the most popular provision of the Affordable Care Act – the part that doesn’t allow insurance companies to reject new customers because of their pre-existing medical conditions.

On Wednesday, USA Today published an op-ed under the byline of President Donald Trump on the topic. A taste:

Dishonestly called “Medicare for All,” the Democratic proposal would establish a government-run, single-payer health care system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.

As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.

The newspaper has endured a day of criticism for running what many described as a press release sorely in need of fact-checking. From the Washington Post:

Trump made this promise, but broke it. He supported Republican plans that would have weakened protections for individuals with preexisting conditions. His administration also has refused to defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit that would undermine those protections. In effect, the Trump administration no longer supports a provision of the ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare, that makes it possible for people to buy insurance if they have preexisting health conditions.

The argument over Medicaid expansion and protections for those with pre-existing conditions is likely to be a major feature in two televised gubernatorial debates featuring Abrams, her Republican rival Brian Kemp and Libertarian Ted Metz. The Atlanta Press Club/GPB forum is scheduled for Oct. 23. A Channel 2 Action News affair is slated for Nov. 4.

But we got a preview earlier this week, during the APC/GPB debate between the two candidates for attorney general, Republican incumbent Chris Carr and Democrat Charlie Bailey. Carr is one of those GOP attorneys general driving the Texas lawsuit mentioned above, challenging the ACA’s constitutionality.

The first question Carr was hit with focused on the potential disappearance of health care protection for those with pre-existing conditions. Said Carr:

“Obamacare is unconstitutional, plain and simple. When Chief Justice [John] Roberts in 2015 wrote the 5-4 majority opinion, he said the only reason Congress could do what it did with Obamacare was because of the tax authority.

“Back in December, when Congress passed a tax bill, the president signed it into law, that tax went away. So the law is unconstitutional….

“I am not opposed to pre-existing conditions in any way. In fact, once this law is declared unconstitutional, and Congress has to go back and do it the right way, I call on them to include pre-existing conditions….”

There was no follow-up, so Carr was spared having to explain that Republicans in Congress, in control of both chambers since 2014, have struggled to reach any agreement on what an alternative to the Affordable Care Act should look like.

***

Earlier this week, we told you about a birthday party that turned into a celebration of a notable partnership between former U.S. senator Sam Nunn and media mogul Ted Turner, who disclosed late last month that he has Lewy body dementia.

The event, which marked Nunn’s 80th, clearly wasn’t a cap on Turner’s public appearances. We’re looking at an invitation from the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Coalition for a “private luncheon at the penthouse of Mr. Ted Turner on Oct. 17.”

The cause is a proposed amendment to the state constitution, on the Nov. 6 ballot, which would dedicate a portion of the sales taxes generated by sporting goods outlets to environmental causes.

A glimpse of Turner’s digs will cost you a minimum of $1,000.

***

Under questioning from U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Cal., FBI Director Chris Wray acknowledged that a supplemental investigation of Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, accused of sexual assault as a teen, was “limited in scope” by the White House, which set the terms of the probe.

“Our investigation here, our supplemental update to the previous background investigation, was limited in scope, and that was standard for background investigations going back a long ways,” the former Atlanta attorney told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, according to USA Today.

Wray declined to discuss specifics surrounding the White House’s instructions for the probe, which Democrats had complained was too narrow.

***

The AFL-CIO on Wednesday announced a massive get-out-the-vote campaign, airing ads on African American and Spanish-language radio in 26 targeted media markets across the country. The high six-figure buy includes multiple media markets throughout Georgia, including Atlanta, Albany, Columbus, and Augusta.

The carefully crafted press release didn’t include the word ‘Democrat.” Nor did the description of the radio spot:

“Stand up, speak out and be heard,” the ad urges. “Vote for good jobs and a secure retirement. Vote for affordable, quality health care. Vote for dignity, equality and opportunity.”

One possible reason: The Georgia chapter of the AFL-CIO has endorsed a single statewide Republican candidate. He’s Chuck Eaton, an incumbent on the state Public Service Commission.

Think Plant Vogtle and several thousand union jobs on that site.

***

You can place this news from the Gallup organization with the same file that declared water to be wet:

A record-high 59% of Republicans say it is better for the president and majority power in Congress to be from the same political party than for Congress to be controlled by a party different from the president's. That is the highest percentage of Republicans or Democrats favoring one-party control of the federal government in Gallup's trend since 2002. The prior highs saying this were 50% of Republicans in 2003 and 49% of Democrats in 2012.

***

Never miss a minute of what’s happening in Georgia Politics. Subscribe to PoliticallyGeorgia.com


Reader Comments ...