The crushing of a health care revolt — by GOP women

Throughout the past week, Sonny Perdue walked point for the GOP in Georgia, directing the response to the new health care law passed by Congress.

Republicans of every stripe faithfully lined up behind the governor.

What most people didn’t know was that, at the same time Perdue was leading the charge up Pill Hill, a revolt was brewing within his rear guard at the state Capitol. The target was a basic building block in the Republican concept of national health care.

And the rebellion was led by GOP women, assisted by their Democratic sisters.

The women had managed to stall two bills in the Legislature that would allow individual Georgians to buy their health insurance from out-of-state companies. HB 1184 is sponsored by the governor. A second is SB 407, the creation of state Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta).

Nationwide competition would lower costs, supporters say.

At midweek, Hill’s measure was up for a vote in the Senate. In the midst of the debate, two dozen female members of the House trooped into the opposite chamber and lined its walls — an unnerving display of support for the two women senators attempting to derail the legislation.

One of them was Renee Unterman of Buford, the only woman in the Senate Republican caucus. The Democrat was Nan Orrock of Atlanta. The bill was tabled on a 27-23 vote.

In the House, the governor quickly found himself twisting female arms.

Before it could be ready for the big time, the Republican version of health care would first have to get past a quiet Capitol tradition — a bipartisan alliance of women fiercely devoted to health care issues, especially when it comes to insurance.

For decades, policies sold in Georgia often ignored female complaints. Over the last 25 years, the women at the Capitol had banded together to demand coverage for the essentials — such things as hospital stays after giving birth, contraception, pap smears and mammograms.

Georgia now mandates coverage for 45 specific conditions and treatments in insurance policies.

Many women in the Legislature see the sale of policies from other states — which have varying degrees of regulation — as an attempt by insurance companies to dodge the mandates they’ve worked for. And they fear that consumers will end up being sold complicated policies that don’t cover the basics.

“I have fought for these mandates my whole political career. I’m a former Grady nurse,” Unterman said. “I have serious concern about young people buying insurance, because I know they don’t read those contracts.”

In the House, opposition was being stirred, in part, by state Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta), chairman of the House Children and Youth Committee.

Like Unterman, Manning opposes the new federal health care. “I’m adamantly opposed to anybody mandating that I buy insurance,” she said.

But the health insurance that people do buy should be worth something, Manning maintained. “You don’t get auto insurance without collision. So why would you get health insurance without some of these mandates to protect you from getting these dreaded diseases?”

The screws began tightening at 5 p.m. Friday, the day that bills had to be passed by one chamber or the other – or be declared dead.

The only Republican woman in the Senate was informed that her male colleagues had gathered enough votes to bring back SB 407.

Cheaper insurance is essential when parents are being forced to choose between mortgages and health care, argued Hill, the bill’s sponsor. “Those people who don’t have health insurance have zero mandates,” he said. “Their financial security is at risk every single day.”

But Unterman was told that, if she would join Hill, an amendment would be included that would require out-of-state insurance companies to honor most of Georgia’s coverage requirements.

She did, and the bill passed with two votes to spare. Women from the House again had come to watch in silent protest. They numbered only three. None were Republican.

Afterward, outside the chamber, Unterman wrapped her arms around state Sen. Don Thomas (R-Dalton) and began to cry. Senate Democrats predicted the fix-it amendment that Unterman had agreed to is likely to be stripped away before final passage.

In the House, backers of the governor’s bill were served notice that House women had prepared more than a dozen amendments. So the House rules committee awarded HB 1184 protected status – no amendments would be allowed.

The House debate began shortly after 10 p.m. and lasted an hour. Woman after woman took to the well to protest the measure, but all were Democrats. Only one Republican woman, Penny Houston of Nashville, spoke in favor of the measure – the rest sat silently in their chairs.

The last word went to House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island). “What opponents of the bill are really saying is, the people of Georgia are not smart enough, intelligent enough to be able to read and discern for themselves,” he said. “I don’t need anybody in Washington, D.C., and I surely don’t need anyone in Atlanta, Ga., telling me how to meet my health care needs.”

The governor’s health insurance bill passed easily, 108-55. The women’s alliance had been fractured. Of 10 Republican women, only two voted no: Manning and Rep. Jill Chambers of Atlanta.
* * *
One additional explanation for the lopsided result in the House: Several GOP lawmakers were told that, if they voted for the governor’s out-of-state insurance bill, Americans For Prosperity wouldn’t call them out on their vote for the $169 million hospital bed tax, which also passed Friday.

Virginia Galloway, leader of the anti-tax group’s state chapter, denied the bargain. Galloway said she had told GOP lawmakers that, if they passed HB 236, a zero-based budgeting bill, she wouldn’t turn the bed tax into a scorecard vote.

But the House didn’t pass HB 236. And so Galloway (no relation to this blogger) intends to go after those Republicans who voted to pass the bed tax.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

64 comments Add your comment

Paul from Marietta

March 27th, 2010
4:44 pm

why block this legislation? interstate competition of health insurance? what’s wrong with that.

James

March 27th, 2010
4:45 pm

So glad that Unterman & Manning are looking out for our best interests….. They just don’t get it! I don’t want to pay for a policy that includes things I don’t want nor need.

Sasha

March 27th, 2010
4:50 pm

Enter your comments here

Sasha

March 27th, 2010
4:51 pm

I say: “Yeah! For the Ladies!!!”

David Hoffman

March 27th, 2010
5:03 pm

What is wrong is that some states have insurance laws that basically allow the insurance companies to collect premiums and deny what in the medical profession would be considered normal and customary care for females. The policies in those states are designed to only cover medical procedures that apply to both males and females. Gynecological and obstetrical procedures for females are not included or are defined very narrowly. This leaves women with large unexpected medical bills. They often do not discover this until after they get needed treatment and the claim is denied by the insurance companies. The insurance companies that will sell these policies to women in Georgia will have no intention of following any insurance regulations for mandated female coverage. They will spend a fortune to bribe our wonderful Georgia state legislators and insurance commissioner, file numerous “Interstate Commerce” lawsuits claiming to be exempt from our state requirements, and scream “free market” to keep from paying claims.

cv

March 27th, 2010
5:15 pm

Our legislature doing it’s usual work of supporting insurance companies rather than the people (women) of Georgia.

JL

March 27th, 2010
5:28 pm

Theoretically if insurance companies offered policies without some type of regulation, you could buy a policy that did not cover your type of illness. I don’t want to use a ouija board to figure out what type of insurance I need.
In the state of GA, insurance companies must provide mammograms and colon screening. Both of these tests save lives. Thank you to the ladies of congress.

Beau

March 27th, 2010
5:30 pm

Get back in the kitchen where you belong!

Steve

March 27th, 2010
5:35 pm

I am glad that the female’s were looking out for other females, but their actions were not the baest way to get this done.

They say they don’t want federally mandated health insurance because they don’t want the feds telling them what to do. Yet, their actions are basically doing a very similar thing to all women in Georgia. They are liminting the options that women have by their actions, forcing them to choose between a couple of providers. Why not allow an open market where women can ‘choose’ which insurance to buy based on needs that are important to them??

Maybe some women don’t want to pay extra on their insurance for hospital stays after giving birth or contraception. By removing the ability to choose thru force, you are denying women the basic tenet of democracy.

Politicians need to stop treating Americans like we are too ignorant to make our own decisions. Just because they want things a certain way doesn’t mean the people they support might. what’s next, a bill that denies Walmart the right to sell home furnishings and decor because all people decorating aren’t smart enough to know it’s not as elegant as Pier One or some other store? STOP telling American people what they can and can’t do! Sure, it sounds ludricous, but so does telling a 70 year old woman that she has to pay extra for her health insurance to cover post birth hospital stays. I am not saying it can’t happen, but forcing her to pay for somethign she likely doesn’t need is called stealing in my book.

ThisIsMyName

March 27th, 2010
5:35 pm

Well said, David Hoffman.

And while allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines will, IN THEORY, allow for a more competitive market, often the same companies that operate in GA also operate under much more lenient regulation in other states. Those companies are not likely to compete with themselves; they are more likely to close their GA offices altogether and sell poorer policies to us, for no cheaper than we’re paying now, from states with no regulation – bad news for the insured, bad news for employment.

Patriot

March 27th, 2010
5:53 pm

The State of Georgia mandates that everyone MUST have automobile insurance for the priviledge of driving their cars on the highways and byways within the state.

It is said this will protect everyone from the horrors of the uninsured.

The Federal Government now insists that everyone MUST have health insurance.

Is this so unreasonable?

Our hopsitals are awash with patients who flood emergency rooms who have no means or desire to pay for that care. Everyone else is thus oblgated to make up the difference though payment of inflated bills to the hosital, the doctor and the insurance companies whoes policies they do hold.

Common sense screams that if everyone pays what costs they incur, everyone else pays less. Just like auto insurance.

Patriot

March 27th, 2010
5:55 pm

Hey Beau – Get back to the wood pile where you belong

H S Wilson

March 27th, 2010
5:56 pm

How come the Dems did not let the public know about the $1500 annual withholding they have planned for everyone’s pay checks to pay for a Long Term HeathCare program they kept quiet during the legislation process?

Mr T

March 27th, 2010
5:57 pm

Mr T

March 27th, 2010
6:05 pm

The Republicans have learned history well! LOL
Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
Hermann Goering quote

Patriot Missile.

March 27th, 2010
6:15 pm

Patriot…Auto Insurance is one of the biggest rip-offs in america. Government Healthcare will be in 2014.

Isis

March 27th, 2010
6:21 pm

While we the consumers go back and forth over the health care issue with politicans fueling the fire with foolishness, the big guys at the top will continue to line their pockets. We are so focused on fighting each other that we can’t see we’re being used as pawns in the money game.

REPUBLICANS ARE SORRY

March 27th, 2010
6:37 pm

Step aside , YES WE CAN won the election…We said “Hell no” to the party of no in 2008 for a reason.

Keith

March 27th, 2010
6:50 pm

Patriot, from a Constitutional standpoint there is no comparison between requiring automobile insurance before someone can operate a vehicle on public roads and requiring someone to buy health insurance just because they are alive and breathing. Apples and oranges I tell ya

DEMOCRATS AREN'T LISTENING

March 27th, 2010
6:54 pm

You said “Hell No!” to the party of 2008 and now your saying “hell no” to the american public majority. Guess who gets to say “Hell No!” next time?

Jim

March 27th, 2010
6:56 pm

Galloway,

Are you serious?

She was crying over what happened with the former Senator Schafaer. That is an interesting way to spin your article thought to make it seem like she was upset over the bill.

Mike McGahee

March 27th, 2010
7:03 pm

The Georgia Legislature put the restrictions on insurance companies for a reason, so it’s more than reasonable to question their removal. David Hoffman is exactly right. Allowing insurance companies to sell health care policies in our state while not meeting all state requirement will give false security. Women, mothers, daughters, sisters all are at risk because of the votes of our representatives. The article doesn’t mention what restrictions the companies will not have to abide by, but I would be surprised if it only effects women. There actions seem like a desperate attempt to say they did something about health care, but this will not help. It only makes the system worse and will lead some to purchase inferior insurance. The only thing that they are possibly taking care of is a bad image, we should not let this succeed. Tell your friends and neighbors about this change and that they better beware of out of state policies and that their representatives have placed us all at risk. Sonny Perdue and the GA Legislature have sold us out again, no surprise here! Protect your friends and loved ones and spread the word, that’s what we can do now.

Mugwump

March 27th, 2010
7:03 pm

I doubt that Keene needs any help with his health insurance neeeds. Our tax dollars take good care of him.

pete

March 27th, 2010
7:27 pm

I just dont get it,we pay for their salaries we pay for their insurance,by the way that is goverment bought ins.But Georgia goverment does not want their people to have what they have,yet they want us the people to pay for them to stand up and tell us no.

Laurie

March 27th, 2010
7:47 pm

Unterman was lied to, and in turn did women of Georgia a huge dis-service. That’s why I plan to vote every incumbant out of office for this mess they have unleashed on Georgia citizens. Hope it was worth the extra cash in your pockets, and I hope your female children get cervical cancer after they are no longer covered under your government policy.

Shar

March 27th, 2010
8:06 pm

The reason you buy insurance for things like extra days’ stay postpartum is because you can’t know beforehand if you’ll need them. Although the days of relining abed for a week after giving birth are long gone, I’m here to tell you that giving birth is arduous and exhausting in the best of circumstances, and if complications arise the woman is debilitated. If this is the case, she’ll probably stay in the hospital as long as her doc tells her to, only to find out later that she owes a lot of money since her policy was written in such as way as to obscure what she was actually purchasing coverage for.

I find it horrifying that Untermann’s own colleagues, knowing that she was commited to women’s health care coverage, purposely tricked her into supporting a bill she knows will dramatically lower Georgian women’s access to health care. And, of course, thereby cheerfully sold half of their constituents down the river, all in the name of political posturing. But hey, them gals is the unimportant half, right?

How low can our House and Senate possibly go?

Policy Guy

March 27th, 2010
8:36 pm

H S Wilson: “How come the Dems did not let the public know about the $1500 annual withholding they have planned for everyone’s pay checks to pay for a Long Term HeathCare program they kept quiet during the legislation process?”

Maybe because it wasn’t a secret as many analyses were published about the act? Here’s one written in January: http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/extract/29/1/8. Also, you can opt out, so it’s not mandatory

No Deal

March 27th, 2010
8:40 pm

HAHAHA! Those Republican women get sucker punched every time. They’re such easy marks. Just ask Glenn Richardson or Mark Sanford. HAHAHA!

Mike

March 27th, 2010
9:38 pm

Republican turned Democrat

March 27th, 2010
9:56 pm

Of course, I support the new healthcare law, aka Obamacare. I don’t agree with everything in it, but there probably isn’t a complex law on the books that I do agree 100% with. Overall, it does the job that needs to be done. Sure, some undeserving slackers may get another benefit but guess what? They were getting it anyway by ways of ER Care, which is much more expensive. So anyway, misinformed folks are crying about the cost not realizing the heinous long term cost had this bill NOT been passed, not to mention the problems many hardworking Americans would continue to endure had this bill not become law.

Having said that, I find it very hypocritical that had Republicans written the very same law, not many Dems would have fought against it, the public would support it and everyone would be singing Kum Ba Ya. The Dems wouldn’t have used scare tactics, outright lies, and misinformation to mislead the public into a hateful frenzy to the great extent that the GOP has and continues to do. I guess we see how desperate and dangerous the GOP has become having found itself on the doorstep of irrelevancy.

RGB

March 27th, 2010
10:13 pm

Off the top of my head, these stories appeared in the news just this week as the result of the Democrats new plan for socialized medicine:

1. Medtronic – will shed 1,000 jobs.
2. AT&T – Setting aside $1 BILLION for added health care costs.
3. 3 million = retirees who will lose their private drug coverage.
4. 40% = tax on many employees’ and retirees’ health plans (Verizon warns)
5. $100 million = additional cost Caterpillar will incur this year (before full implementation of the plan).
6. $150 million = additional costs John Deere will incur this year.

Those of you who support ObamaCare should know that you are directly responsible for job loss, loss of life, and a lower standard of living for millions of Americans. This country will NEVER recover from your idiocy.

One can understand why power-hungry politicians would sell out this country, but for people of even average intelligence–why, they have no excuse.

Remember reading this in the years to come. YOU enthusiastically supported legislation which accelerated the decline of this country. This bill is “Unintended Deceleration” of our way of life.

Chris

March 27th, 2010
10:14 pm

Republican turned Traitor…..wait til November – the only thing Democrats are going to be in DC will be cleaning up garbage.

Doug

March 27th, 2010
10:26 pm

Hmm, let’s see? GOP is for smaller government. No mandated health care except what they deem important. Whoopee, we have GOP & Dem nannies. Do you think maybe that is why the “Tea Party” movement is gaining traction?

Boots

March 27th, 2010
10:35 pm

It’s really easy being a Republican: just vote “NO” on every bill that’s sponsored by the President or any Democrat.

And, the wonderful Christian folks in Georgia had just as well see the poor, homeless, addicted and needy children pushed to the curb because in their elitest view of the faith they have forgotten that Jesus said, “Inasmuchas you have done it unto on of the LEAST OF THESE my brothers, you have done it unto me.”

Wake Up Georgia!

March 27th, 2010
10:36 pm

Chris my friend, boy are you and the other right wing just say “no” crowd in for a tremendous surprise come November. The economy is beginning to hum and by November look out. Health care reform is popular, otherwise it would not have passed. People voted for people to approve it back in 2008 and your crowd ended up diluting the effort with all those false “death panel” and other garbage claims. Georgians have traditionally been backward types from time to time. With leadership like Perdue and his colleagues, what do you expect?

ryan

March 27th, 2010
10:39 pm

hey RGB, they are paying because the bill closed a tax loophole. Corporate welfare! Here’s an article that lets you know WHY this is happening. Get informed. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/03/26/business/AP-US-TEC-ATT-Health-Care.html?_r=2

rooster

March 27th, 2010
11:14 pm

Requiring health insurance is not quite analogous to requiring auto insurance. It certainly is true that both car and health insurance premiums are elevated somewhat because of the uninsured. Car insurance of course makes this explicit. But a sick person who shows up at the ER uninsured costs all premium payers a few cents, while an uninsured motorist who causes an accident costs a particular person or persons who knows how much. So health insurance protects the aggregate, while auto insurance protects individuals.
Moreover, let us try to remember that driving a vehicle is not a right, but a privilege extended by the state to those who meet certain requirements, one of which is the purchase of auto liability insurance.

WAW

March 27th, 2010
11:21 pm

Come this November and all the Novembers thereafter, Republicans are going to be telling people, just as the Georgia Republicans are now, do it our way or no way. It won’t happen! Children are to be cared for that have been denied care by the insurance companies, seniors who have spent their savings paying for the Republican Donut Whole will have relief and the parents of the children and children of the parents will see the folly of voting guaranteed profits won by millions spent lobbying Republicans. Corporate Republican will not succeed. Those waving the protest banners now will vote their pocketbooks. The Tea Bag folks show a lot of gray hear and they will vote for their grandchildren being cared for not the Insurance Companies.

Michael

March 27th, 2010
11:28 pm

the people of Georgia are not smart enough, intelligent enough to be able to read and discern for themselves

James

March 27th, 2010
11:40 pm

I guess the insurance companies money isn’t going to waste here in Georgia. I’m sure the bill favors the insurance companies at our expense; otherwise, they wouldn’t push it. They’ve been pushing it ever since the Obama plan came up as their favored alternative.

Wheres that change

March 28th, 2010
12:17 am

Hey everyone….Are you not hearing…Are you just this stupid….or do you really not care about this united states, your freedom. Did none of you read the CBO report, that in 2020 our GNP would be 90%. Did you not hear from companies like AT&T and Catapiller who will have to let go, not lay off but let go hundred of thousands of workers to cover this healthcare bill. Are you all that politically dedicated that you will let Obama and the democratic peons dictate the distrustion of the united states?

Some of you better get your reading glasses on. Additional IRS agents totaling 18,000 are going to be hired to collect health insurance premiums. Its in the bill, read it. The IRS will have the right to take your money right out of your bank account. Its it the bill, read it. My God, this is not about Republicans or democrates, this Obama care bill is going to distroy America.

GO READ THE STUPID BILL…..THE HOUSE AND SENATE HAS NOT YET READ IT BUT I HAVE. GOD HELP US ALL.

DH

March 28th, 2010
12:19 am

Who the heck cares about stupid score cards anymore? By now most informed voters (the target audience for score cards) know how biased and downright twisted they can be.

really

March 28th, 2010
12:30 am

@boots – I love you

Stewart

March 28th, 2010
1:12 am

Last I heard the federal government regulates interstate commerce. Mr. Galloway, does GA’s law even stand a chance of being relevant? I suspect this was just another way for the Republican caucus to appear as if they’re taking a stand against those evil Washington Democrats. Amazing that they think protecting faux freedom is more important than raising some money for education in this state.

True Georgian

March 28th, 2010
7:36 am

Shame on you, Galloway. I was there and saw it. She was crying over the Schafer family. I heard her comments.

walter cox

March 28th, 2010
7:45 am

‘”The IRS will have the power to take money right out of your bank account>” They have always had this right dope. It happened to me in the 1970s. Do some research while yoiu are “reading that bill.”

The Real Politico

March 28th, 2010
7:54 am

Anyone who knows anything about insurance knows that when you purchase out of state insurance that company is not regulated or has to abide by the rules and regulations of our state’s Insurance Office. As inept as it is. That is why there was a need for mandates to be included in the Georgia bills.

GB

March 28th, 2010
8:11 am

Good article and fair summary of the issues. Regarding Rep. Judy Manning’s comment about auto insurance and collision coverage: she has it backwards. People can and do buy auto insurance without collision coverage. They decide for themselves whether they need it.

deegee

March 28th, 2010
8:20 am

I wonder how many of the people that are screaming bloody murder about having to buy health insurance are spending over $100.00 a month on a cell phone. I would bet that they are spending more on cable/satellite TV than they are spending on their health. They would rather have their teenage kids sexting each other than spend a dime on their health insurance.

Nancy10s

March 28th, 2010
8:24 am

So, I am 50+ female. I don’t need maternity coverage. Why do I HAVE to have that, where are my choices? I can figure out these decisions on my own thank-you. We are all not stupid idiots that can’t decide what to do in life. Government doesn’t need to mandate what I need. I decide that.