A health insurance corporation lobs a shot across President Trump’s bow

Dawn Nagel checks up on Scott Steffens. Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News/TNS

Blue Cross Blue Shield will drop individual health insurance coverage in metro Atlanta in 2018, but will remain in the 96 counties where the company is the only insurance provider, according to the report that leads today’s newspaper, written by our AJC colleague Ariel Hart.

But if you’re in Washington, that’s not the part of the story that struck you as important. This is:

“Unfortunately, continued regulatory uncertainty at the Federal level and the current state of instability in the individual market have necessitated that we consider discontinuance of certain of our current offerings,” Jeff Fusile, the president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, wrote in a letter to the state explaining the move. He wrote the letter in June, but Blue Cross made the announcement to customers Monday.

Translated, that’s a corporate shot across the bow of President Donald Trump and others who say that Republicans won’t be held to account by the collapse of the Affordable Care Act.

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And yet there’s a bright side to the decline in health care coverage. An increase in the American rate of death has allowed major corporations to decrease the amount of money they’re obliged to pump into pension funds, according to Bloomberg. Lockheed Martin, for instance, has lowered its payments by $1.6 billion for 2015 and 2016.

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A new national poll by CNN, released last night, shows Trump with mixed fav/unfav ratings (48/47 percent) on the issue of national security, but a dismal 31/62 percent showing on the issue of health care.

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NBC News reports this morning that the Pentagon is considering air strikes on ISIS in the Philippines. Drones would be the likely weapons.

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Think I-16 on this one: The Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, according to the Associated Press, are no longer pursuing the regulation that would require testing for sleep apnea, the fatigue-inducing disorder that’s been blamed for deadly rail crashes in New York City and New Jersey and several highway crashes.

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The Georgia GOP might have backed down on a “religious liberty” pledge for gubernatorial candidates, but another Republican outfit is taking it on as a cause. The Georgia Republican Assembly, a more conservative shadow organization of the state GOP, is asking  gubernatorial candidates who will attend its Saturday meeting to sign the exact same “religious liberty” vow rejected by the state GOP executive committee on Saturday.

The group’s president, DeKalb activist Alex Johnson, wrote to candidates and their top aides Monday that the state party’s move was “unacceptable both to Republican voters and to voters at large.” Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sens. Hunter Hill and Michael Williams have all signaled support for the legislation. As we’ve noted before, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle – the presumptive GOP frontrunner – has a more nuanced position on the issue.

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Jim Beck, a longtime insurance agency staffer and leader of the Georgia Christian Coalition, is expected to announce his candidacy for state insurance commissioner today. Our AJC colleague James Salzer reports that Beck will be one of several candidates lining up to replace Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens – and vowing to change the state law that the incumbent blames for preventing his office from doing anything to slow auto insurance rate hikes.

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A second Democrat has entered the race for a state Public Service Commission. Lindy Miller, former associate director of global public policy at Deloitte and co-founder of a Georgia-based renewable energy company, will face former state lawmaker John Noel in next year’s primary.

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Marshall Shepherd, a professor of meteorology at the University of Georgia, has gotten into the document preservation business:

The study says climate change has been far more potent than first thought.

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Marco Rubio is predicting that U.S. Senate colleague David Perdue’s new plan to overhaul the legal immigration system could not win enough support to advance through the Senate. “I think the White House knows that you don’t have 60 votes for that in the Senate,” Rubio said during a local television interview over the weekend. But Rubio did back the broader concept of prioritizing skilled immigrants for entry into the U.S., as Perdue’s bill does.

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State and local governments have issued fewer infrastructure bonds in the first months of 2017 than during the same amount of time last year, Reuters reports. New deals to fund transportation and utility projects totaled $50.7 billion, down 19.4 percent from 2016.

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Sonny Perdue drew a parallel from his new job as agriculture secretary to his old one as Georgia governor on Monday, via Twitter: “Got to peel back stifling regulations like a sweet Vidalia onion, one layer at a time. tour in Rochester, Illinois.”

He’s very on brand, you know.

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Former Gov. Roy Barnes spoke to the Bartow/Cartersville Chamber of Commerce on Monday. From Neil McGahee of the Daily Tribune News:

“We need to elect a few one-term folks to office that are willing to say ‘I am going to solve this and I don’t care what the political consequences are,’” [Barnes] said. “You put that together with infrastructure improvement, the capital expenditure in roads and transportation and the intellectual capital you need and you will prosper. Otherwise you will perish.”

Reader Comments 1

2 comments
LGJR
LGJR

Bias is coming through on your "translation" of the Blue Cross Blue Shield decision.  Insurance companies are losing money all across the nation due to Obamacare.  The hope was it would be repealed and replaced with something that works.  Because of the political uncertainty surrounding a replacement strategy - that no democrat will ever vote for - companies like BCBS have to bow out because they can't afford to stay in.  Democrats love Obamacare so much, let's just let it run its course and see what people think when they see their cancellation notices or their premium increases. 

BDCoole
BDCoole

Where are all the nuts? No subscription? At least we don't have to see how much money somone's aunt made $10k last week on the www.

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