Republican Gubernatorial Candidate John Oxendine Wants The Federal Government To Help Cover Uninsured

Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine

Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine

Georgia’s insurance commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican who is also running for Governor, said that the state won’t participate in the first phase of a new federal health care law which requires that states establish interim high-risk pools to provide coverage for individuals cannot find affordable coverage in the individual health insurance market. Oxendine’s decision is somewhat ironic, however. By opting out of the program, Oxendine is inviting the federal government to directly contract for the provision of services within the states, thus bringing about the very kind of federal intrusion that Republicans seek to avoid.

In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Oxendine said that the new program would burden Georgia taxpayers:

“I have no confidence in any federal assertion that this so-called temporary program will not burden the taxpayers of Georgia,” Oxendine said. “I am concerned that the high risk insurance program will ultimately become the financial responsibility of Georgians at a time when our state is furloughing teachers, laying off employees, and cutting public safety and education funding.”

In other words, when given the choice between building a state-based program or having the federal government come in and contract for services with private insurers, Oxendine set the standard for conservatives across the nation and invited the federal government into the state. As Jeanne Lambrew said today during a conference call with reporters, “if the officials in Georgia chose not to participate in the high-risk pool program, our Department will work to ensure that people in George, as well as other states that don’t participate have access to affordable insurance.”

And given Georgia’s high uninsurance rate and the prevalence of chronic conditions, it’s good thing that it will. 17.8% of Georgians were without health insurance coverage in 2008. Approximately 10% of the population has diabetes, 36.9% of the population is overweight, and 27.8% are obese. 18.5% of adults are also limited in any activities because of physical, mental, or emotional problems.

We’ll see if other states choose to establish their own high-risk insurance pools, but for now it’s important to note that Republicans are seeking to win election by outsourcing the job of covering the uninsured to… the federal government.