Insurance office cut, Oxendine blames rival Cagle

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is accusing his Republican gubernatorial rival, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, of playing petty politics with the state budget.

Oxendine is pointing the finger at Cagle over the Senate’s decision to take away his agency’s $1.86 million consumer services division.

Oxendine and Cagle are both running in 2010 to replace Gov. Sonny Perdue. Cagle is the Senate’s president. Oxendine said the Georgia Senate’s decision to transfer his consumer services division to another agency is more about gubernatorial politics than smart fiscal management.

 

“Obviously they (Cagle backers) are concerned,” Oxendine said. “Politics is politics, but government should not be about that.

“It’s one thing for people to have different opinions. It’s another thing to say your personal ambition is so important that you’re willing to hurt Georgia families.”

 

The transfer of the 33-employee division to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs is included in the fiscal 2010 budget plan the Senate will approve Wednesday.

Oxendine has used the successes of his consumer services division, which handles complaints about insurance companies, during previous campaigns. The stories of some of the people his office has helped have wound up in campaign ads. Oxendine claims the division has recovered $200 million for consumers from companies over the past decade.

Of Cagle, Oxendine said, “There is no doubt in my mind he personally ordered this.”

Jaillene Hunter, Cagle’s spokeswoman, didn’t directly address the accusation. But she said,”The Senate Appropriations Committee identified numerous areas where the state could find further efficiencies and we applaud their effort to cut back on spending.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill (R-Reidsville), said, “ The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs offers similar services and this is simply another way we found to consolidate duplicate efforts across state government.”

Under the Senate plan, the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs would receive an additional $1.6 million to handle insurance calls, about $200,000 less than Oxendine’s office currently spends.

20 comments Add your comment

The Snark

March 31st, 2009
3:42 pm

None of these people give a damn about the ordinary Georgian. It’s all just a game to them.

PMC

March 31st, 2009
3:48 pm

Can we vote them both out?

[...] AJC colleague James Salzer is reporting that the Senate version of the budget, which will be voted on tomorrow, includes the [...]

G. Humphreys

March 31st, 2009
3:59 pm

Mr. Cagle should be ashamed of himself. I happen to know that Commissioner Oxendine’s Consumer Service Division is a staff of dedicated, professional people, who have helped Georgians deal with insurance issues for years. They remain available to citizens until 7:00 each evening to help people who cannot deal with complex issues during regular work hours. It is very doubtful that the Governor’s office will have a staff qualified to address the issues specific to insurance questions, that arise with its constituents. Yes, budgetary factors are important, but government that is just efficient, is not always desirable. I want a government that HELPS the citizens, NOT the candidate. No doubt, Mr. Cagle could realize more efficiencies by placing ALL state functions under one umbrella, yet I doubt that would best serve the interests of the State of Georgia. I hope that our elected officials will give this a second look. Let those who are best equipped to help us, do so.

Bobby

March 31st, 2009
4:10 pm

I think the Governor of Georgia should have a college education. In that regards, Cagle doesn’t have a college degree. Would you want an uneducated CEO. Think about it.

Windale

March 31st, 2009
4:11 pm

Oxendine is the biggest fraud of them all. I’m sure this move was made in the best interest in saving Georgians tax money. This is Oxendine playing politics as he does best.

Tony

March 31st, 2009
4:27 pm

Enter the Ox hacks coming in here to claim some noble cause. It’s clear Ox uses this office to boost his own campaign profile. It shows up every run for office he makes. So Humphreys needs his facts straight when saying we need an office that helps the citizens. Cutting taxpayers’ costs helps the citizens. If a department can be consolidated to help people AND costs, I don’t care how dedicated the staff is. I have to tighten MY belt and cut MY costs. Why shouldn’t the government start doing the same? If the same work can be done within one department rather than two with higher costs, then consolidate it. Sorry if Ox’s ego and campaign line are hurt. But Cagle and others recognize the government is bloated and certain areas can be cut or consolidated. I amy or may not support Cagle but the fact Ox is throwing a tantrum over keeping bloated government shows him less a fiscal conservative than he claims. Less government is better government. Ox just lost my vote for sure.

grannycat60

March 31st, 2009
4:45 pm

How many furlough days has Cagle taken? What about his employees? Ox takes furlough days just like the rest of his department and has since last year. Tony, just how is 33 people losing their jobs helping citizens???

Buckhead

March 31st, 2009
5:13 pm

Ox for Gov……GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!

Uknow

March 31st, 2009
5:34 pm

You ever run into Oxendine on the street? He’ll have a cell phone pasted to his ear. People that know him will tell you he’s not really on the phone, he just doesn’t want to be approached.

Ben

March 31st, 2009
5:35 pm

Listen to Oxendine on the stump and he’d have you believe he’s the second coming of Ronald Reagan, paying lip service to limited government and conservative principles.

This episode proves Oxendine is nothing more than a Republican in the mold of George W. Bush — empty rhetoric when it comes to cutting spending.

Is anyone really surprised he’s up in arms about his budget being cut? The guy is like every other self-interested politician looking out for themselves.

Edmund

March 31st, 2009
5:39 pm

Truly classic. Check out this Oxendine fundraising letter:

“I am sick and tired of candidates who pander to the conservatives in an election and then take positions opposite once in office. I am sick and tired of leaders who cannot pass important legislation because they are playing politics at the state Capitol. I am sick and tired of Republican candidates who are RINOS – those who take conservatives votes, but enact liberal Democrat policy for Georgia.”

Luckily we didn’t have to even elect him Governor to find out he’s talking about himself here!

Reg373

March 31st, 2009
5:46 pm

Right. And It’s morally wrong to leave million uninsured and 1 illness away from financial ruin. And it’s wrong to burden small business with the outrageous insurance costs also — found a cool site; Balkingpoints ; global forum + incredible satellite view of earth

Bob

March 31st, 2009
5:48 pm

I dont know what hole you people have been hiding under but the majority of the state is tired of Sonny and the Republicans. If Barnes enters the race, he will win…thats all there is to it!

[...] Crooked Timber added an interesting post today on Insurance office cut, Oxendine blames rival CagleHere’s a small reading“Politics is politics, but government should not be about that. “It’s one thing for people to have different opinions. [...]

Tony

March 31st, 2009
9:30 pm

Granny, 33 state employees losing their job means less government. It means less payroll and government benefits, insurance, retirement, etc. WE the taxpayers have to pay. What’s the point in taking a furlough if your staff is duplicating work that can be done by other departments? It’s lip service. Try making some meaningful cuts in staff and services that clearly can be moved elsewhere.

Add to the fact that a true conservative doesn’t complain about smaller government. AND a true conservative doesn’t come out crying about some others from his own party wanting to cut the size of government either by claiming some campaign year conspiracy. Man up Ox. Practice what you preach. Or just keep pretending to be a small government conservative and then whining about protecting your bloated agency that clearly has areas that need trimming. Companies across the board are making cuts. Responsible CEO’s are cutting dead wood. Responsible leaders are streamlining their companies. True conservatives have no qualms about cutting the size of fattened government even if it is within their own agencies.

Leo

March 31st, 2009
11:27 pm

This may be a political move, but it makes no sense. Insurance is a highly techincal field and the fact is that much of Oxendine’s staff has outstanding insurance credentials and background and years of industry experience that is incidental to their success means a great deal. It is a short-sighted move and will result in less service to taxpayers. Oxendine does waste taxpayer dollars by closing his office at 7PM. It should be shut down at 5PM, including all state offices in Capital Hill. That was a political move when he was seeking re-election years ago that never went away so he could brag that he was the only office in State Government open that late, a real white elephant that encourages people to call in angrily on cell phones while in vehicles during drive time contributing to accidents, quite likely. At the end of the day, there are probably political motives on both sides as there almost always is. Oxendine is wasting taxpayer dollars with his 7PM close. I’ve used his Division several times. They are courteous and effective. They can take insurance terms and bring them to layman’s ears. Someone who is not insurance saavy cannot do that. Do you enjoy curling up before an open fire on rainy night and reading your insurance policy?

Been There

April 1st, 2009
9:55 am

Oxendine can dish it out but his current whining session proves that he can’t take it. He is also a media hound who won’t leave his office unless a camera crew will be waiting for him. He’s proven more than once he’s more so there for the campaign contributors with deep pockets than he is for the citizens of Georgia. Hopefully Georgians will see through his self serving photo opts and NOT vote for him as Governor.

T.Smith

April 2nd, 2009
9:05 am

The Consumer Services Division is an invaluable service to the citizens of Georgia. Just recently the department was recognized for helping Georgians receive over 22 million in insurance benefits they were owed. These are funds that were legally due to policyholders. Funds they may not have received without the assistance of the department.

Now, most law abiding folk know that recently insurance premiums have doubled, tripled in some cases due to the passing of SB-276 passed October 2008. This bill essentially allows for the adding of coverage and increasing of premium rates without prior approval from you the consumer or the Insurance Department. Mr. Oxendine was opposed to this bill. Unfortunately it was passed by General Assembly and went into effect January 2009. We are all affected. If you were in the opinion that company heads of insurance company were being allowed to run rampant on the public you haven’t seen anything yet.

To replace the existing public service as it is now, one with professionals with many years experience and results for individuals who lack the working knowledge would be in essence replacing it with an answering service. Shifting the funds away from the Insurance department’s consumer services division could not only potentially cost Georgian residence millions in insurance benefits but also could cost jobs that support local Georgian families. Much more than the cost of funding the division yearly.

Let’s hope. Let’s pray that lawmakers follow in the tone of this new term by putting aside politics for the sake of just doing what in all honesty is just right.

granny60

April 2nd, 2009
11:36 am

T.Smith, I could not have said it better. Tony, I certainly hope that when you turn 60, or maybe sooner, that you don’t have to try to find employment. If my job is cut to “save taxpayers money”, I hope you don’t mind that you will be paying my unemployment benefits and insurance until I find a job. Personnaly, I’d rather put my money into the economy than taking it from other hard-working people.