Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens (R) boasted to a crowd of Republicans that his office is creating bureaucratic hurdles to slow down and derail the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare." Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman reported that earlier this month, Hudgens boasted to an audience of Republicans in Floyd County, "Let me tell you what we’re doing (about Obamacare). Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”
Activist Bryan Long of the group Better Georgia told Raw Story, "I have nothing more to say than to point out Ralph's own words, that he and the governor are obstructionists on Obamacare and that's the role they've chosen. Hopefully people in Georgia will realize that this is one more way that our insurance commissioner and our governor are doing everything they can to obstruct the law and to keep health insurance from most Georgia residents."
"It's sad," he said.
In Floyd County, a grinning Hudgens allowed the waves of applause and cries of "Amen!" to wash over him as he detailed one of the ways his office is sabotaging the plan to bring affordable health coverage to the 19.7 percent of people who are currently uninsured among Georgia's population of 9.92 million. Georgia had the fifth highest percentage of uninsured citizens in the country as of 2012.
Hudgens' plan targets the Affordable Care Act's provision that calls for "navigators" to be hired by organizations to help people shop for policies on the open market. The government is offering training programs and grants to help create the positions.
“We have passed a law that says that a navigator, which is a position in that exchange, has to be licensed by our Department of Insurance,” Hudgens told the audience. “The ObamaCare law says that we cannot require them to be an insurance agent, so we said fine, we’ll just require them to be a licensed navigator. So we’re going to make up the test, and basically you take the insurance agent test, you erase the name, you write ‘navigator test’ on it.”
By imposing the extra requirements, Hudgens hopes to ensure that the Obamacare rollout in Georgia goes as poorly as possible, a move that could benefit the state Republican Party politically, but at the expense of Georgia's poor and underserved. Additionally, the navigator positions Hudgens wants to make more difficult to acquire would create new jobs in a state with an 8.8 percent unemployment rate as of July 2013, which is more than a full point higher than the U.S. average.
The Journal-Constitution's Brookman wrote, "(Y)ou get the sense that the loathing of ObamaCare and the emotional unity and common purpose that loathing inspires within the GOP has become so important that ObamaCare itself is almost an afterthought."
Watch video of Hudgens' remarks, embedded below via Georgia Democrat: