Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens (R) has a message for the estimated 57.2 million Americans suffering from diabetes, asthma, cancer, genetic disorders, and other pre-existing medical conditions: it’s your fault.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution uncovered video of Hudgens from a November meeting at the CSRA Republican Women’s Club in Evans, Georgia in which he makes the case against the Affordable Care Act’s mandated coverage for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. In fact, Hudgens compares requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions to requiring auto insurers to pay claims to any reckless drivers without comprehensive auto insurance who crash their cars:
HUDGENS: I’ve had several companies come in and they have said just the fact — just the fact — that in the individual market pre-existing conditions have to be covered on Jan. 1, that that is going to double the cost of insurance. And if you don’t really understand what covering pre-existing conditions would be like, it would be like in Georgia we have a law that says you have to have insurance on your automobile. You have to have liability insurance. If you’re going to drive on Georgia’s roads, you have to have liability insurance. You don’t have to have collision. You don’t have to have comprehensive…. But you have to have liability.
But say you’re going along and you have a wreck. And it’s your fault. Well, a pre-existing condition would be you then calling up your insurance agent and saying, ‘I would like to get collision insurance coverage on my car.’ And your insurance agent says, ‘Well, you never had that before. Why would you want it now?’ And you say, ‘Well, I just had a wreck, it was my fault and I want the insurance company to pay to repair my car.’ And that’s the exact same thing on pre-existing insurance.
Perhaps it isn’t surprising that Gov. Nathan Deal’s (R-GA) administration is advancing the insurance industry’s line on Obamacare. In September, Deal revealed that he had taken over half a million dollars in contributions from the health care industry through a Super PAC whose activities were kept secret until an investigative reporter uncovered corporate donations to the group over the summer. Many of those donations — including $50,000 checks from United Health Care, Inc. and WellCare of Georgia — came from major insurance companies that are opposed to Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections, like the coverage requirement for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Other donors included Humana, Blue Cross, and Aetna.
Hudgens himself has even deeper ties to insurance companies. In fact, Consumer Watchdog singled him out in a 2011 report on insurance commissioners’ relationships with the industry they regulate. It found that private insurers were Hudgens’ top supporters for his 2010 race, donating just under $150,000 to his campaign.
Over 20 percent of Americans who applied for insurance in the pre-Obamacare individual market were denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition in the 46 states that didn’t already ban those practices.
As of press time, Deal’s office had not responded to a request for comment.
Hudgens walked back his comments to the Journal-Constitution on Wednesday, saying that he’d used a “really poor analogy” that couldn’t “be further from the truth.” “I’ve had family members, I’ve had friends … who have pre-existing conditions. It’s not the person’s fault they have a pre-existing condition,” said Hudgens.