Georgia’s Governor Took Money From The Insurance Lobby While Denying Health Coverage To The Poor

CREDIT: AP Photo/David Tulis

Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) in a 2012 state meeting with reporters

Georgia governor and fervent Obamacare critic Nathan Deal (R) has taken over $550,000 from health care lobby interests and groups opposed to the Affordable Care Act through a Super PAC whose financial activities were kept secret until this past Labor Day weekend, according to the advocacy group Better Georgia.

The money was comprised of donations from large insurance companies opposed to consumer protections in the health law — such as not being able to deny Americans with pre-existing conditions from buying coverage — including $50,000 contributions from United Health Care, Inc. and WellCare of Georgia and lesser funds from insurers Humana, Blue Cross, and Aetna.

The Super PAC — called Real PAC — had not disclosed its finances for the past two years until an independent investigative reporter uncovered several corporate donors earlier this summer. That prompted Deal to release the numbers over the long weekend — a move that critics say is intended to minimize media coverage of the donations.

Advocates argue that the health care industry’s political contributions to Deal are striking when juxtaposed against his refusal to accept generous federal funding to take expand Medicaid under Obamacare. Taking part in the Medicaid expansion would have cut Georgia’s uninsurance rate by more than 51 percent and extended basic coverage to 650,000 low-income Georgians.

“It’s clear from the governor’s actions while he’s been taking this money that he’s been working for [insurance companies’] interests,” said Better Georgia Executive Director Bryan Long in an interview with ThinkProgress. “Those 650,000 people in Georgia are among the poorest in Georgia, and they didn’t have the million dollars to put into this PAC. So I think it’s very clear that money talks.”

Many GOP governors have dug in their heels against Obamacare to the detriment of the poorest people in their states. But as Raw Story points out, Deal’s administration has been brazen about its intention to undermine health reform.

Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens (R) went so far as to tell an audience of Republicans that his office’s number one goal regarding the health law is to do “everything in our power to be an obstructionist.” Hudgens also detailed some ways the Deal administration would go about doing that, such as imposing harsher requirements for people trying to become Obamacare “navigators,” who will help consumers buy coverage on Obamacare’s insurance marketplace beginning in October.