Ralph Hudgens: ‘Insurance commissioner can’t do squat about health care’

Ralph Hudgens, the state senator from Hull and Republican candidate for insurance commissioner, was on the radio this morning with Martha Zoller.

Her station, WXKT (103.7FM) in Gainesville, covers most of north Georgia, and streams live on the Internet.

Hudgens and Zoller continued to chat during one of the breaks, but Zoller forgot to turn off the audio that feeds into the live stream.

So a number listeners heard Hudgens say, quite forcefully: “The insurance commissioner can’t do squat about health care.”

And so another politician has learned that a) the mike is always live, even when it’s dead; and b) some truths uttered in private aren’t nearly as true when they’re said in public.

Zoller e-mailed Hudgens an apology later in the day. Fortunately for the candidate, the audio wasn’t being recorded.

Hudgens is one of nine Republican candidates in the race for insurance commissioner.

One of them, attorney Maria Sheffield of Atlanta, heard Hudgens comments, and Twittered a jab:

Beware Live Mic: Ralph Hudgens streaming live on Martha Zoller show during radio commercial forgot he was live. Why he can’t fight Obama…

At issue is the declaration by state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican candidate for governor, this spring that he would refuse to implement the first phase of the new health care law – a high risk pool for Georgians who can’t get health insurance because of preexisting conditions.

If states don’t create the pools, the health care law authorizes the federal government to do it.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democratic candidate, recently called Oxendine’s decision “one of the most foolish things I’ve ever seen.”

“The funds for people with pre-existing conditions are available right now, so why not take them and insure these folks? It’s crazy,” Barnes said – according to Tom Baxter at InsiderAdvantage.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

34 comments Add your comment


June 22nd, 2010
5:43 pm

Yep… “I’ve got health care…. too bad about you”. Many of our politicians, and the a good chunk of the electorate, really don’t give a damn about others. Sad…


June 22nd, 2010
6:22 pm

Yes he can along with every one else who is ready to vote republican and rescend what the left wing idiots have forced down our throat.

[...] h/t Political Insider [...]

Rev Al Sharpton

June 22nd, 2010
7:04 pm

who cares
this is all bush’s fault


June 22nd, 2010
8:04 pm

Only four other state’s in the union care less than Georgia, about providing access to health care insurance for those denied policies (for nearly any excuse if one if over 50). Too many have died needlessly because Oxendine doesn’t give a care about fixing a broken health care system, on a state level. Georgia rates nearly at the bottom, for premature deaths, immunizations, high school graduation rates, pollution. But, hey, we nearly at the top, for hypocricy. For big political points, our elected officials, stood ready to butt into another state’s issue, to save just one life, that of Terry Schiavo, while countless Georgians perished, that year, shamefully.

How about being Pro-Life, for all the people?


June 22nd, 2010
8:27 pm

Oxendine’s ole ladies paycheck is signed by BlueCross, he don’t give a darn about his constituents with pre-exisitng conditions, big business will give him a west paces address….

Mr. KnowitAll

June 22nd, 2010
9:06 pm

If Hudgens cannot do anything about healthcare, then why do we need him as Insurance Commissioner?

He’s OUT!!!

Georgia is Red

June 22nd, 2010
9:48 pm

An insurance commissioner can not do anything about health care. Its a fact. His quote was true. Purcell acts like he can get us all free health care. He is clueless. Hudgens is really right. What was crazy is Oxendines statement. He is clueless as well.

Google this

June 22nd, 2010
9:55 pm

Political Fact GA – please allow comments so we can call you out on being BULL! You wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped you across the face. “well there definitely is a red mark on my face, and a swoosh, but technically it was a palm and the pinky didn’t make contact so no I was not slapped”

There is no open thread – so it goes with this post!


June 22nd, 2010
10:05 pm



June 22nd, 2010
10:34 pm

In a manner of speaking Hudgens is correct. The problem is that he like all the others have tried to convince the voting Georgia public that he “can” do something about healthcare. The National Healthcare Reform Bill that Oxenine refused and Governor Purdue has appointed a Special AG for will be tied in federal litigation for years. if an when the the final product comes to the COI desk it will be already decided upon and he or she will only be able to give input so that it best fits the citizen needs.

Now, one candidate, Dennis Cain from Georgia recognized that fact early on and has a solution for insuring Georgians. It doesn’t at all involve the Federal Act but instead involves a coming together of State Insurance agencies, the Commissioners office, and the people in developing a partner based plan that suits the needs of the uninsured, involves key players, and is cost efficient.

He is the only candidate that has not been flying the paper tiger banner that they could somehow ever do anything about the National Healthcare Reform Act. They are portraying the position as if they are going to be on Fox News or CNN every other day talking about the National plan.



June 22nd, 2010
11:00 pm

Why are rightwingers like Drew so angry – why do they hate America and their fellow Americans? Talk about being unpatriotic.


June 22nd, 2010
11:19 pm

I’d like to ask all the candidates for Insurance Commissioner to stick to the issues.

I don’t care what your positions are on abortion, the IRS, prayer in school, etc.

Can any of them have a discussion on issues relevant to this job?

Joyce M.

June 23rd, 2010
12:30 am

The IC can do a lot of about healthcare. What are rates? What about the premium tax? Do your homework kids!

And VOTE GERRY PURCELL! Georgia’s next insurance commissioner!


June 23rd, 2010
1:28 am

The only time the IC will input into National Healthcare legislation is when the Special Attorney General, and the US Supreme Court decide what to do regarding the case brought up for Constitutional deliberation. He can however along the way give input, but it will be only surface.

The one candidate that has seen this and portrayed this from the beginning is Dennis Cain. No, he is not a showman, a politician, or anything other than an insurance man. He has been that for 31 years and has served his customers from most every task level in the field. He has ran debit routes, and now owns his own agency. He understands urban needs and he understands the rural. He lives a meager life and is a praying man that believes strongly, and works hard.

His customers are not large conglomerates, but individual citizens that provide 90% of the workload to the office of Commissioner of Insurance in Georgia. The only time I can recall that office making the National Media is when Oxendine refused the National HC Bill. Now one also must realize that at that time Oxendine also knew he was going to run for Governor.

The rubber hits the road in the pocketbooks of common working Georgians. The cost of insurance for most everything has skyrocketed for us over the past few years. There are reasons for it, they are unfair, and Dennis Cain has ideas of how to approach them. Cain has the best ideas that work for common Georgian’s, and sees issues that are not all the hoopla of the media talking points, but they are most important to “we the people”.


Anti-incumbent movement

June 23rd, 2010
4:51 am

this anti-incumbent movement will only work if it’s a national effort.

If only the red states, or the southern states participate, that will leave the most senior congressmen in northern or blue states. The all-powerful committee chairs are awarded on seniority, thereby shifting political power to the blue and northern states.

The tea party will need to ensure that their message works outside of the south and midwest, or they will actually weaken the political base of power in their own states…


June 23rd, 2010
7:35 am

I thought the job of the Insurance Commissioner was to chase fire trucks and get on the 6 & 11 o’clock news for free face time. Ox has played the local media like a fiddle. No one since Lester has had them figured out so well.

The insurance commissioner should be a representative of the people to gain the best possible rates for the best possible coverage. They should not be allowed to accept a dime in “campaign contributions” from any company or representative thereof that they regulate. A case could be made that the health care coverage should not vary from state to state and the shared risk pools enlarged by expanding them across state lines. There is a huge difference in health care which is pretty much universal in risk vs homeowners insurance for flood and/or hurricane prone areas which varies from state to state. The health care crisis is more of a national issue and I would prefer that the state insurance administrators be one less layer in complicating the issue, and one less layer of graft, so in a sense I agree with Mr. Hudgens on this one.

Egor for real change

June 23rd, 2010
8:53 am

Ralph is a jackass. Worked with him briefly in the State Senate, he needs to be as far away from government as possible. Although I know what he is trying to say, he is the only one in this race dumb enough to actually argue this. I mean when the guy announced and decided to run”after lobbyists and insurance company representatives approached him and urged him to seek the office, he said.” http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/031909/opi_411461266.shtml

@Joyce— You drank the Koolaid, do your own research and you will realize the stupidity of what you are arguing as well, you’re talking about legislation.


June 23rd, 2010
8:55 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.


June 23rd, 2010
9:20 am

wow, so implementing an awful piece of legislation that is sucky will make our health care better? Somehow I don’t believe it. This obamacare is crap and will do nothing to make health care in this country better. It will only make us all more dependent on our federal govt. They don’t know what they are doing (is our education system better since the creation of the department of education?) – and we will all suffer. It has nothing to do with ‘wanting people to die’ which is an absurd statement. It has everything to do with wanting a fix. But this bill is not it.
Congress passed a bill in quiet at the last minute, so they could have a bill passed. It does not have anything to do with keeping people healthier. Our country is so vast and different places are so different, that there can’t really be a mandated federal govt program that works well in most places in our country (just like so many other programs the federal govt runs).

Georgia Conservative

June 23rd, 2010
9:36 am

One fallacy about the insurance commissioner’s post is that he or she should try be another PSC by capping rates insurance companies charge. This is a different kind of industry. All the regualations actually make things less competitive. If a company wants to jack its rates 30%, let them. They’ll price themselves out of the market when customers go elsewhere.

If the insurance commssioner really wants to help consumers, he’ll push things that lower risk factors like expanding fire coverage. Those are things tha will really help bring premiums down.


June 23rd, 2010
9:54 am

He’s actually right. And Maria Sheffield is the last person we need in that office. Bureaucrat/lawyer, trained under Oxendine…no thank you.


June 23rd, 2010
9:57 am

The Insurance Commish Candidates
A candid look from a common Georgian perspective….

Ralph Hudgens: A pro-politician facing an aging problem. A turncoat Dem that now wants to play middle of the road politics and boost his retirement parachute a bit larger while not ruffling any feathers. Till the 6//22/10 gaff it was working. Ghosts live in this man’s closet and at times they hoot and holler all night. Changing horses in the middle of the stream is shameful, but also haunting.

Tom Knox: Pro-politician that probably served insurance companies presently serving Georgia, while he was serving as Congressman. He thinks he deserves the position because of the deep and hard stance he took on the National seen against the National Healthcare Act. He made National TV. I guess that deserves some credit….NOT! I find myself happier I still read my news. Mr. Knox is the Lester type, or the Gene Talmadge type even. He can be very temperamental I believe. Never a good trait, in a public servant, but maybe a politician.

Seth Harp: Pro-Politician, Veteran, Marine, Good man. He knows a lot of people, some of them in large insurance firms, can make anyone feel comfortable. All in all I think he too is wanting to pad his resume and his retirement with yet another pot of public money. His platform is following the same route as so many others. He also appears to believe this is a position that could possibly lead to Washington. I mean it is a politician’s ultimate sacrifice to public servitude, to move to DC and a new retirement level. Good man/Good Marine.

Maria Sheffield: An attorney and I am thinking John Oxendines hoped for winner. I believe since she served in his office, and learned somewhat under his watchful eye she grew ambition becoming of an up and coming attorney. She really believes the National Healthcare issue is her rise to fame in the political world. It’s her new ambition, or career if you will.

Rick Collum: First time I will see him is reportedly Friday night when I watch the debates on my haggard antenna driven TV. I only get one station and that is GPB. Anyway, that’s what I know about Rick Collum, but seeing as how he was a Federal Marshall, and several other graduative measures of success along the way, he should be interesting to hear more from.

Steven Northington: A good fellow that is smart and has some good thoughts. A Metro area dude that knows the city well, but outside of that, in Georgia, he might find himself in a confusing situation with two bubba’s in a broke down pickup with coon dogs. Sharp dresser though. Got to hand him that. Lacks charisma. Probably shoots a Benelli shotgun when on a quail shoot somewhere.

John Mamalakis: One of the most cordial candidates, no doubt. He is friendly, from Savannah, and a person that you would enjoy having a bourbon and cigar with. He is trying his best to portray a worthy candidate. He is somewhat learned in some areas and not so much in others. Got the best tan of any of the candidates. He also needs to eat better and exercise more. I saw him sweating bullets and breathing hard the other day. And he was just carrying three small signs and had only walked 50 yards.

Gerry Purcell: At one time he probably owned a used car lot and sold on a weekly payment basis. He is talkative, overly friendly, and works hard. I think he is an entrepreneur seeking his next career in politics. He has done lots of things, had several occupations, and his latest one is “Candidate for Insurance Commissioner of Georgia”. That is scary!

Dennis Cain: The dark horse. The man that most reflects a man trying to serve the people. The candidate from Southern Georgia that is apparently well read, very not-politician, and seems to be a very good fellow. He told me he has never been in politics, but has dreamed for years of becoming Georgia’s ‘Commissioner of Insurance”. I looked it up, that is the name of the office he is running for. The others all called it the “Insurance Commissioner”.

It says something about a fellow that knows the accurate name of what he is running for in political office. I am impressed that Mr. Cain is an “insurance man” and a man that knows both the urban and rural sides of our State. I remember when I was a kid when that fellow came to our house. He would always have a sackful of candy he would hand out to us. That’s Georgia!


I don’t know, but I think in this year of the people of our Country and State trying to somehow bring ‘reason back to government, Mr. Cain might be the candidate to look at and consider the most. But then you might be looking at someone else. That’s fine, just so you look and consider what is good for you, but also good for your fellow Georgian’s.

No Teabagging

June 23rd, 2010
9:58 am

The current insurance commission does nothing for consumers. Try filing a complaint against a health insurance company, especially BCBS. What does the insurance consumer investigator do? Send you a copy of the insurers ‘legal’ department opinion’ on your claim that the insurer has denied you coverage, refused to pay for covered services or unfairly raised your rate. They will not even look into the facts or send you a statement of their opinion. They do the insurance company’s bidding and the consumer is left SOL!


June 23rd, 2010
4:37 pm

Unlike the other candidates in the race, Gerry Purcell is willing to look beyond the status quo and fight ObamaCare. While it may be true that Insurance Commissioners traditionally could do little to fight ObamaCare, they could refuse enforcement, and take the feds to court. This is what Purcell will do.


June 23rd, 2010
5:33 pm

Purcell can do nothing more than what is already being done. Neither can any other of the candidates. The others, well…except for Ralph Hudgens, as we now know, will also fight ObamaCare.

if you read you will see they are taking the Feds to court.

Richard Baker

June 24th, 2010
10:11 am

The Insurance commissioner could immediately reduce the cost of healthcare.

Insurance Premium Tax in Georgia is about the highest in the country at 4.75%

Reduce Premium Tax and cost of Healthcare is reduced.

Healthcare is an emergency situation and an emergency change needs to be made to the way Premium Tax is calculated.

At 4.75% the State of Georgia has an incentive to increase Healthcare Premiums. That is wrong because we all know what happens when you give poloticians an incentive !!

Richard Baker

June 24th, 2010
10:20 am

Welfare for the Rich and Famous

Obama gave AIG billions upon billions of taxpayer money.

AIG / Chartis is selling insurance to large corporations and owners of large yachts and aircraft at lower prices than other insurance companies.

These cheaper prices and/or discounts are only made possible by the provision of taxpayer money.

Taxpayers are subsidising these discounts and therefore any time that AIG / Chartis are cheaper than the competition it is very simply a form of Welfare provided by Obama and the democrats to mainly republican voters.

The government should never have bailed out AIG / Chartis as it is not an American thing to do.


June 24th, 2010
12:05 pm

And Hudgens wants to be Insurance Commissioner???? Well, first he needs to read the Georgia Code covering what exactly it is the Insurance Commissioner does. Guess what that position does? It approves or disapproves rate increase requests by insurance companies doing business in Georgia. Now, what do you call that? It’s the President of the United States who cannot increase or decrease health care costs. Hudgens must be a complete idiot or think we’re idiots.


June 24th, 2010
12:12 pm

Hey, Drew. I think you’re a “Marxist” — a Groucho Marxist. You need to be on meds.


June 24th, 2010
7:41 pm

BoogarBubba, excellent (for the most part) analysis. Except for this:

“Probably shoots a Benelli shotgun when on a quail shoot somewhere.”

A Stoeger, actually. And Northington does quite well in rural Georgia, coon dogs and all. His roots are rural and he knows his way around both a Stoeger AND a coon dog :-)

Richard, the premium tax *is* a maximum of 4.5% but the much-bandied-about “4.5% health care tax” is not at all accurate. The maximum tax on health insurance is 3.1% – it’s 4.5 on property and casualty. It’s kind of amusing that one of the candidates for this position keeps calling it a “4.5% health care tax” – of course, this same candidate also calls for a “low risk pool” pulling all of the 21-year-old healthy folks out of the larger pool, thus steeply increasing costs for everyone BUT the 21-year old healthy folks. I would love a Commissioner who at least understands the basics of how insurance really works. I don’t care so much about bombast and political rhetoric.

Northington is my choice – he has real world experience with the regulation which follows legislation – which *is* something the Commissioner of Insurance can do something about.

Richard Baker

June 24th, 2010
11:43 pm



The structure of the insurance premium tax in Georgia is quite simple, which is the primary reason why states choose to tax premiums over other taxation methods. Since 1955, there has been no change to the premium tax rate or to the tax base in Georgia. The tax base is simply the gross direct premiums received on policies issued in Georgia. Georgia=s tax rate is 2.25 percent. The state also collects an additional tax on premiums and disburses it to the local governments. These local taxes are an additional 1.0 percent of the life premiums, (which are allowed as a deduction against the premium tax) and 2.5 percent of property and casualty (P&C) premiums. Therefore, the true tax rate on P&C premiums is 4.75 percent while Life and Accident and Sickness (A&S) premiums are taxed at 3.25 percent.

The tax due the state of Georgia is simply the tax rate times the tax base, minus any abatements. From premiums received, the taxpayer is allowed to deduct premiums returned to the policyholder and any dividends paid to the policyholder. The resulting taxable premiums are taxed at a rate of 2.25 percent plus the local tax rate.

A number of abatements or deductions exist that affect the taxes due. The first is the investment abatement. If an insurer invests a quarter of its assets in certain qualified Georgia assets, then the State premium tax obligation is reduced from 2.25 percent to 1.25 percent. If the amount of investment by a company equals 75 percent or more of its total assets, then the premium tax is abated one half of one percent.

A second abatement allows for certain Georgia-domiciled insurance companies writing coverage on fire, windstorm, extended coverage, and lightning damage in Georgia to deduct any retaliatory tax paid to another state.

A third abatement allows deductions for license fees paid to local governments by life insurance companies, A&S companies, and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). These license fees vary from municipality to municipality and range from $15 to $150.

The fourth deduction allows HMOs, Life, and A&S companies to deduct payments made to the Georgia Life, Accident and Sickness Guarantee Fund.

A final abatement allows Life, A&S, and HMO companies to deduct the one percent county and municipal taxes. This abatement is not available to the property-liability industry.

For insurance companies domiciled in Georgia, the sum of the abatements is deducted from the total domestic premium tax due to the State of Georgia and its counties and municipalities. Foreign companies (those not domiciled in Georgia) may have a further retaliatory tax imposed depending on the tax policy of their home state. Authorized under O.C.G.A. ‘33-3-26, the retaliatory tax essentially penalizes a company domiciled in a state with a premium tax rate that is higher than that of Georgia. Likewise, a Georgia company writing in a state with a premium tax rate lower than Georgia=s will have to pay the computed difference to that particular state. For example, if a Tennessee property and casualty company writes a policy in Georgia, it pays Georgia=s 4.75 percent tax. If a Georgia company sells a policy in Tennessee, which has 2.50 percent rate, Tennessee collects its 2.50 percent plus the 2.25 percent difference from the Georgia-based company. In the simplest of terms, a Georgia-based insurer writing policies in any state with a lower insurance premium tax than Georgia=s, will always have to pay Georgia=s 4.75 percent rate.


June 25th, 2010
8:29 am

Exactly, Richard. Thanks for the backup documentation. 4.75 on property and casualty, 3.25 on life and health. Not a 4.75 health care tax since health insurance is not property and casualty.

[...] GOP-Ins Comm: State Senator Ralph Hudgens (R), who is seeking his party’s nomination to run for Insurance Commissioner, is among perhaps the most crowded field of candidates in the July 20th GOP Primary, with 8 other Republicans seeking the nomination. Hudgens was recently caught on a live microphone (When will candidates learn? It’s always live) during a break on the Martha Zoller show declaring that “The insurance commissioner can’t do squat about health care.” [...]