The health care bargains struck by Johnny Isakson, David Perdue

Early reviews of the second attempt by Senate Republicans to craft an Obamacare repeal include several strong hints that Johnny Isakson and David Perdue will be ‘yes’ votes – if or when that final tally comes. From the AJC’s subscription site:

Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, with backing from his colleague David Perdue, scored a bargaining win with a funding formula for indigent care hospitals that is now included in the newest bill. The formula will now be more friendly to states such as Georgia that didn’t expand Medicaid. And the amendment in the bill to ease requirements on what plans insurance companies can sell is a longtime conservative goal.

Given that it’s considered bad form to strike a hard bargain, then abandon the compromise that results, Isakson and Perdue now have to be considered likely supporters of the measure.

Over at Georgia Health News, Andy Miller makes the same point about Isakson/Perdue gains, and adds another:

[I]t would help the 19 states, including Georgia, that have not expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, by creating a new formula for indigent care funding that’s favored by the Georgia Hospital Association.

The hospital group said that under that shift, Georgia would be eligible for roughly an additional $250 million as compared to the earlier Senate bill, beginning in fiscal 2020.

The new bill would continue Medicaid coverage for children with “medically complex disabilities,” a provision sought by Georgia’s U.S. senators.

The Georgia Hospital Association still has “serious concerns” about the bill. From GHA President Earl Rogers:

“While some of the changes may prove beneficial to Georgia compared with the previous language, it is clear that the new plan still relies heavily on massive cuts to Medicaid funding that will reduce access to care throughout our state.”

***

Blake Aued, the long-time political reporter in north Georgia, sends word of a Democrat-turned-Republican state lawmaker who’s attempting a comeback.

State Rep. Regina Quick, R-Athens, is not running for re-election. A judgeship may be in her future. Two Republicans and a Democrat are gunning for her House District 117 seat.

Athens lawyer Deborah Gonzalez is the Democrat.

Houston Gaines, a Republican consultant for non-profits and grandson of a local judge, has raised in the neighborhood of $66,000 and has a bipartisan list of endorsements.

His primary opponent is Doug McKillip. From Aued and Flagpole Magazine:

McKillip switched parties in 2010, after a wave election favoring the GOP. House Republicans redrew his liberal-leaning Athens district to include parts of Oconee, Jackson and Barrow counties, making it safe for a Republican. However, the district seems to be trending left. Donald Trump won it by just 4 percentage points last year.

State Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens, in a 2012 AJC file photo.

 

Other than the party switch, McKillip is best known for sponsoring a bill restricting abortions after 20 weeks that enraged Democrats and many medical professionals but boosted his standing on the Christian right.

McKillip wasn’t just any Democrat. He was chairman of the House Democratic caucus. From the AJC’s archives:

Less than a month after being elected the No. 2 Democrat in the  House,  state Rep. Doug McKillip of Athens announced that he is  switching to the Republican Party.

 

McKillip becomes the sixth Democratic member of the House to join  the GOP since the Nov. 2 election.

 

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams said she learned of McKillip’s  switch when he called her just before 2 p.m. Tuesday.

 

“He’s been making fundraising calls for the caucus over the last  few weeks. He’s been helping freshman House members raise money, ”  Abrams said.

 

McKillip told the Athens Banner-Herald that he is switching to  protect Athens’ interests,  such as funding for the University of  Georgia and the HOPE scholarship,  and to have a seat at the table  when lawmakers discuss tax reform,  water and other issues.

As we recall, Democrats sent their voters into the next GOP primary to vote for Quick. And McKillip lost.

***

Two Georgia Democrats on Capitol Hill are conflicted about whether to jump into the 2018 battle for the gubernatorial nomination between Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans. But one isn’t.

“I’m not saying anything at this time,” said John Lewis, D-Atlanta. “They’re two wonderful people.”

The race is starting to win national attention because it’s pitting two different visions for the future of the Democratic Party against one another.

“I think the Democratic Party’s light is going to shine brighter” because of that broader debate, said David Scott, a centrist based in Atlanta. “I don’t see them as conflicting. I see them more as complimenting one another.”

Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, said he’s backing Abrams. He cited the former House minority leader’s efforts to mobilize the party’s base.

“She has the vision for the future of the Democratic Party in Georgia,” Johnson said of Abrams. “The Democratic Party has to reach out to its supporters who are not enthusiastic about coming to the polls as opposed to trying to reclaim voters who we’ve lost decades ago.”

***

The Republican field for Georgia governor might not be set yet, but there’s another name we can rule out.

Word started spreading in recent weeks among some evangelical circles that Cheryl Bachelder, a former Popeyes chief executive and author of an inspirational book, was eyeing the race. She told us, unequivocally, she was not:

“There is absolutely no truth to those rumors about me running for office,” she said.

***

The University of Georgia’s campus newspaper, the Red & Black, has a profile of the people mulling a challenge to U.S. Rep. Jody Hice in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District.

 

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