Nathan Deal warns against a hasty defunding of health care reform

Every now and then, you and I are allowed a glimpse of reality by the people we elect to high office.

They pull the curtain aside for a few valuable seconds — just long enough for us to be startled.

The surprise doesn’t have to be a lie — and usually isn’t. More often, what we are met with is a situation that is far more nuanced and complicated than the spoon-fed rhetoric that we get from the flat screens in our living rooms.

Take the issue of Republicans and the Obama administration’s health care overhaul. Last fall, “repeal” was the byword among GOP candidates — until it became clear that Democrats would retain control of the Senate.

Then the slogan shifted to “defund.” We will starve the beast into irrelevance, House Republicans vowed.

Last week’s unanimous vote for an outright repeal of health care legislation was understood to be a largely a symbolic gesture to tea partyers.

Afterwards, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia promised that an amendment to defund health care reform would be added to a federal spending bill up for a vote this week. The bill is intended to fund the federal government for the rest of this year.

Cantor’s hurry-up attitude isn’t universal. Even among Republicans.

Not so fast, Gov. Nathan Deal said that very same day, in a little-noticed interview on Georgia Public Broadcasting. And “not so fast” is precisely what he meant.

The immediate occasion was Georgia’s decision to join in an effort to speed up a U.S. Supreme Court review of a pair of federal court challenges to health care reform now in play.

“One of the real problems that some of us as governors foresee is that, if the mandates on states remain in place, but the funding from the federal level to carry out those mandates is withheld, that’s the worst possible condition that states could be left in,” Deal said.

The governor had pulled the curtain aside.

A spokesman emphasized that Deal is as opposed to health care reform now as he was last year, when — while still a member of Congress — he voted against it.

But if federal funding for health care reform is cut, and its requirements remain in place, then state government could be left holding a very large bag.

For instance, extending health care coverage to the adult (up to age 26) children of state workers will add nearly $18 million to the state budget in 2011 and $35 million in 2012, according to a memo from the state Office of Planning and Budget.

Other requirements applied to state workers will add $40 million to costs in 2011 and $45 million in 2012, the memo said. Requirements to help already retired state workers cross the bridge to federal Medicare could cost another $160 million over two years.

Federal health care reform legislation included billions of dollars in cash to help state governments meet those sudden, new expenses. Cut that money in Washington — without repealing the coverage requirements — and the burden falls on state governments. And then on you.

“If Washington doesn’t want to pay for the health care mandates, then remove the mandates. We need repeal, not a passing of the buck to Georgia taxpayers,” said Deal spokesman Brian Robinson.

And we haven’t even begun to address the new burdens on the state’s Medicaid bill.

Which is why Deal has asked the U.S. Justice Department’s help in speeding these challenges to health care reform to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final resolution.

(It should be noted that the letter signed by Deal and other Republican governors asks only for expedited treatment of the district court cases, in Florida and Virginia, in which judges overturned the health care overhaul — not the two cases in which judges upheld it.)

Even an express-lane case could take years to resolve. Barring an injunction to block enforcement, the state of Georgia would still be required to meet the costs of the health care requirements now in place, Deal maintains.

And 28 other Republican governors are presumably in the same financial boat with him.

Late one night in Washington this week, the House Rules Committee, controlled by Republicans, considered a myriad of amendments to that spending bill mentioned earlier. A floor vote is scheduled for this week.

But the panel rejected broad amendments aimed at defunding health care reform. House rules don’t permit the use of spending bills to legislate, the Republican chairman ruled — not that U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is an admirer of health care reform. “An abomination,” she has said.

A defunding amendment could still be tacked onto the spending bill.

But it is interesting to note that, behind the curtain, there would be Republicans hoping that it did not succeed — not yet.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

48 comments Add your comment


February 16th, 2011
6:36 pm

Like it or not, some level og government intervention into healthcare has to happen. Tax payers will pay in the long run with or without a federal mandate. How effeciently is the only question.

Last Man Standing

February 16th, 2011
6:41 pm

What’s the problem? Do not fund this monstrous cluster-f— and remove the mandates from the states. Problem solved.

Daily Double

February 16th, 2011
7:06 pm

Nate should tell the holdout weenies in the state senate that the only way to pay for it is taxes from Sunday retail alcohol sales.


February 16th, 2011
7:50 pm

Governing is always harder than politics.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Galloway, Alton E. Drew. Alton E. Drew said: RT @politicalinsidr: Nathan Deal warns against a hasty defunding of health care reform [...]

Light on policy

February 16th, 2011
8:06 pm

Sadly people like LMS will champion against thier own best interests when people like Hannity and,Limbaugh tells him to hate labor unions, universal healthcare, global climate change and a socialist/fascist POTUS (still not sure how one can be both)….the worst thing about this healthcare bill is that it left for-profit institutions in the mix

It’s refreshing that Gov. Deal has a little historical context for his statement. Because of President Reagan’s unfunded Federal mandate to give everyone access to healthcare without sharing the cost is the reason we have a broken system that’s spiraled out of control.

Didn't Vote for Deal

February 16th, 2011
8:16 pm

…but I have been pleasantly surprised by his seemingly pragmatic approach thus far into his term.


February 16th, 2011
8:31 pm

I agree that it’s great to see Deal be pragmatic about this issue.

However, he used the ‘repeal’ rhetoric to get himself elected. He’s no different than Obama in that regard.


February 16th, 2011
8:31 pm

I’m kind of like Didn’t Vote for Deal, he may not be as crazy and dishonest as I thought he is. Of course, he could step up, push his GOP buddies and get us some booze on Sunday. Let me rephrase that. He could impress upon his friends that local rule and choice are hallmarks of all that is good in the GOP.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

February 16th, 2011
9:03 pm

If you work in the healthcare field, or pull you head out of the sand and educated yourself about how healthcare is provided in this country, you know that government is entrenched in healthcare and will be for longer than anyone who can read this will be alive. The problem is demographics and expectations. The problem is not going away and it will only get worse as the population ages. Much worse, if we don’t change our expectations. Individuals have unrealsitic expectations that everything should be done to keep them healthy and alive and that they should have the finest medical care money can buy. But they don’t want to pay for it. They don’t like paying high insurance premiums. They don’t want to pay taxes to the government so it can pay for their healthcare. And don’t want the government to do anything about it, except ensure they will receive the finest healthcare and that all measures are taken to keep them alive. The cold hard facts are staring us in the face, yet we want to have a discussion about “socialism”. Folks, the federal government is here to stay, especially when it comes to healthcare. If you really want to change things, change your expectations that when you get old and/or very unhealthy, get cancer, etc., no technology or lifesaving efforts should be spared in order to save you. Change your expectations that babies born the size of your hand, with multiple totally disabling conditions should receive hundreds of 100s of thousands dollars in medical care to survive and then to receive millions keping them alive for the next 20 years. Change your expectations that the doctors and nursing homes should keep mama alive as a nearly complete vegetable, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on her to do so. Change your expectations and refuse medical care and die with dignity.

[...] Read the rest here: A Georgia governor warns against a hasty defunding of health care … [...]


February 16th, 2011
9:13 pm

Nathan, sometimes I wonder how you got elected, because you’re not very smart.


February 16th, 2011
9:57 pm

This blogger has read too much into Deal’s statement. Deal is not against defunding the monstrosity, but merely pointing out that there is a scenario where the mandates might remain.

Such a scenario could/would be fixed if it where to happen. Using Deal’s worst case scenario to make it seem he has second thoughts is disingenuous.


February 16th, 2011
10:33 pm

Because outright repeal is a “no go” due to the communists…I mean, socialists…I meant to say Democrats controlling the Senate, the GOP needs to take issue with various parts of the law, forcing Democrats to either compromise or forcing them to come down on the wrong side of the fence. One such item would be withdrawing any and all waivers. The vast majority of these waivers have been to Unions and Democratic contributors. Eliminating waivers would cause a union uproar, and Dems would be faced with losing union support or exposing themselves as the discriminatory group of self-serving people they are, ultimately costing them their jobs in 2012. Since this is such a “wonderful” coverage, put all government employees in the plan, including Congress. This piece of garbage should self-destruct before it is allowed to further decimate the US economy. If it doesn’t, though, the Dems will have hurt themselves so badly with their continued lies and posturing, that the Republican-dominated Senate can repeal it in total in 2012.


February 16th, 2011
11:49 pm

Glory halleluyah!!! Is there a streak of pragmatism in Gov. Deal? Let’s hope so. The main problem with some Republicans is that they began to believe their own rhetoric even though it really was never more than a cynical ploy to scare Americans and regain power. Having partially succeeded, they are stuck with the facts. Namely, health care reform has its roots in Nixon and Romney plans and, if anything, is probably too free mkt. oriented and too moderate a reform for a system which needs to have the profit motive removed and replaced by a concern for Americans’ health. Ga. would be a huge net beneficiary of the reform both in terms of the millions of uninsured Georgians who would now get coverage and the billions of Federal dollars that would flow into the economy of our broke state. Politicians who continue to demagogue this issue do so at their own peril since hopefully people will remember them after the reform is fully implemented and the sky does not fall in.


February 17th, 2011
1:43 am

Deal has dealt in Washington long enough to know by now that no state survives anymore without suckling the Federal teat. I could accept it more as healthcare REFORM if the whole monstrosity of a law contained a single page addressing tort reform as the viscous triangle of malpractice attorneys, insurance companies and healthcare providers is what got us to this point in the first place. A single paragraph limiting legal representation to an exorbitant hourly wage in malpractice suits would go a long way toward real reform. If a child is born with cerebral palsy and it is proven that it is the doctor’s fault why does the attorney deserve 30-40% of the amount a jury awards for the care of the child? Take down the incentive and you will reduce the ambulance chasers, how about that for removing some profit motives.

@yuzyurbrain – Where do those billions of Federal dollars come from for our broke state?


February 17th, 2011
4:03 am

It’s okay Mr Deal. Let’s go with defunding, repealing, job killing or whatever else the goobers want to call stopping health care. You and your cronies got elected on that promise so go ahead with it. Why listen to the reason of sanity now.


February 17th, 2011
4:55 am

The “Wise Health Insurance” is quite popular in California and New York. For example it offers the low income health plan. Also offers health insurance for individual with pre-exisiting conditions.

Viet Vet

February 17th, 2011
6:08 am

The posts from the “conservatives” here demonstrate, ad nauseam, that the Republican party has convinced much of the white middle class to commit economic suicide. All it takes is the word “socialism” and the lemmings jump off the cliff at their command.

Time to remove my Deal bumper sticker

February 17th, 2011
6:47 am

What a crock. Dump the Obamacare and add Sunday liquor sales and gambling to the mix and we will be fine.


February 17th, 2011
7:10 am

add sunday liquor sales and gambling to georgia…that is how we are going to get some revenue going. if people do not like this, then you do not have to buy it or gamble.


February 17th, 2011
7:17 am

Just repeal medicare and medicaid while you’re at it and give us that % of our paychecks back. Then dismantle the federal agencies designed to service these big boys and save billions on the budget. Dump the military and save another trillion. The tax abatement to the citizens will allow us to personally decide how we will pay a doctor or collectivize into little groups to finance an insurance policy or pay for an aircraft carrier. Wait, collectivize is socialist.

T.J. Jackson

February 17th, 2011
7:26 am

You idiots who are for Sunday liquor sales on the basis of revenue don’t know that for every dollar liquor brings in it take eight dollars to police and repair the damage that it does. Liquor is a loser for everyone except the liquor lobby. No liquor on Sunday, and Saturday, too, for that matter.


February 17th, 2011
7:51 am

I am truly amazed that socialism has become a dirty word. It is after all the middle ground between capitalism and communism. At either extreme, everything falls apart. Communism as it was implemented did not work, because a small group of insiders ended up running everything for their benefit. If we go to the other extreme (and we are well on our way) exactly the same thing happens. If you have ever played a game of monopoly, you know how pure capitalism turns out.

Road Scholar

February 17th, 2011
7:53 am

Why don’t we have the lobbyists pay for it? They have enough money to buy our elected officials!

Oh, and they are funding an open bar for legislators…I wonder if the legislators are drinking on Sunday or is the bar closed on that day? I think they’re drinking 24/7!

Sam I Am

February 17th, 2011
7:59 am

Is Deal going to “defund” his own gov. funded health ins?


February 17th, 2011
8:10 am

When Americans think of socialism they think of the now Defunct Soviet Union or present day Cuba. That model is state run capitalism, not socialism. There is a vast difference between socialism and state run capitalism.


February 17th, 2011
8:24 am

Government spending is an important issue. It seems to be mostly misunderstood. The absolute number of dollars spend it pretty meaningless. What is important is understanding the difference between the debt and the deficit, and the ratio of debt to GDP. Currently the ratio is around 100%. That is, our total debt, as accrued over the last six decades or so is equal to what we produce in a year. This is somewhat akin to having a mortgage that is equal to your annual salary. This ratio at the end of the Bush administration was around 90%, so it has risen somewhat under Obama. But, how should we respond to this number, if we consider it too high? First, we need to separate importance from urgency. This is important, it is not urgent. There are two ways to change this ratio. One is to cut government and pay down the debt. The other is to grow the economy. Consider what happened at the end of the second world war. At that point in time, our debt to GDP ratio was around 120%. How did we respond? We did not respond by cutting, but by investing: in education, through the GI Bill, in infrastructure through the interstate highway system, and in technology and research through the space program. We even invested in other countries through the Marshall Plan. The result was that the ration of debt to GDP declined every year, even as government grew, until about 1980. Our standard of living, and the American middle class also grew during that period. Since 1980, the ration has risen consistently except during the latter part of the Clinton administration. The deficit, which had grown continuously, also declined under Clinton, until his final year in office. Then, deficit and debt began to grow again rapidly. Government spending and debt increased rapidly because we waged two wars with no attempt to pay for them, cut taxes, and the economy pretty much muddled along. President Obama was probably too timid with his stimulus. He is correct, that if we are to cut, we need to do it strategically, still investing in the things that are going to grow the economy. Sometimes, in business, it is necessary to cut to survive, but no one ever cut their way to prosperity.

Last Man Standing

February 17th, 2011
8:34 am

Light on policy:

Policy isn’t the only thing you’re “light on”. Nobody tells me what to think or believe. I do a lot of reading from many varied sources and form my own conclusions. If those conclusions coincide with Limbaugh and/or Hannity, I guess you could say that they just happen to agree with me.

You might try really educating yourself on the major issues rather than listening/watching “The View”, Entertainment Tonight” or the predominantly liberal news media. It could be an eye-opening experience – and you definitely need to open your eyes!

Oh Well

February 17th, 2011
8:58 am

@Put Your Money…”Individuals have unrealsitic expectations that everything should be done to keep them healthy and alive and that they should have the finest medical care money can buy.”
AGREED – unless you are a member of CONGRESS!

While the “minions” of both parties, races, etc. go at each other’s throats about “socialism” and any other issue….the fine folks in Congress enjoy top of the line (”cadillac”) medical care. How good is it? Well, it’s no wonder why the folks in power go to GREAT LENGTHS to stay there…
it’s the money and perks, afterall.

Oh, I’m sorry…you didn’t think they were serving for your benefit, did you?

I find it rather ironic that they would happily give themselves the best, and deny everyone else under the guise of, ahem, fiscal conservatism/accountability/responsibility…and every other ten dollar word they can think of…

if the market-based system is so wonderful (without reform) – then let Congress have what so many of us have…rising premiums, limited choices, and medical care caps.

blue dog

February 17th, 2011
9:05 am

Thanks for the providing actual historical fact to these readers. They get far too much misinformation and outright lies spoon feed to them each day thanks to ‘talk radio’.
In Paul Krugman’s “the Conscience of a Liberal”, FDR tried to pass universal Health Care in the late 40’s….and it would have passed, except for the “Dixiecrats” who blocked it. Their concern was that with free health care…”the whites would have to share the hospitals with negroes…”
Here we are 60 years later…and here in the south…nothing’s changed.

blue dog

February 17th, 2011
9:11 am


My comment @ 9:05 was directed to you…

Viet Vet

February 17th, 2011
9:12 am

LOL @ Last Man Standing’s ” (if my) conclusions coincide with Limbaugh and/or Hannity, I guess you could say that they just happen to agree with me.” Get professional help, before its too late.

light on policy

February 17th, 2011
9:23 am

I dont watch any of those shows or “liberal” news (whatever that means) I never have. I actually work during the day as a Statistician conducting Qualitative and Quantitative analysis.

So pushing aside your distorted view of the faux liberal/conservative debate, the average liberal/conservative (American) made $33,000 annually in 2008. This number, adjusted for inflation, was the annual median income in 1988! Since you like to engage in independent research, please look the average price of a home, a pack of oreos, a gallon of gasoline and of course healthcare to see how we got here. A good read that I would suggest is Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin. Even though he was educated at a “liberal” college, Cornell University, it’s a good read nonetheless.

[...] *** The Insider column in today’s print version of the AJC focuses on Gov. Nathan Deal’s worries that cuts in funding for health care reform will come before the repeal of its mandates. [...]


February 17th, 2011
10:11 am

“You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose,” is the shortened version of Mario Cuomo’s, “We campaign in poetry, but when we’re elected we’re forced to govern in prose.”
Reworded for the State of Georgia, “You campaign in hateful defiance, you govern in muted resentment.”
Best part is you can blame President Obama for using the first and causing the last…


February 17th, 2011
10:17 am

My late father was an Alzheimer’s patient living in an assisted living home when he passed away. During the last 6 months of my father’s life he fell at least 6 times and was taken to the emergency room via ambulance for a complete battery of tests before he was returned, via ambulance to the home. They never found anything wrong with him other than some bruising. Medicare paid tens of thousands of dollars for the visits to the emergency room. Isn’t this part of the problem?

When are we going to insist that people with lifestyle diseases such as obesity, drug addiction, and alcohol addiction pay more for their insurance than people that take care of themselves? Isn’t that part of the problem?

Wouldn’t relieving businesses of the responsibility for providing health insurance create jobs for Americans? Why should businesses be obligated to provide health insurance if they aren’t obligated to provide renter, homeowner, and auto insurance?


February 17th, 2011
10:50 am

deegee, the way I look at it Medicare is part of the problem with the cost of health care, just like HOPE is a part of the problem with the soaring cost of education in Georgia.
When granny got her Medicare Card the health industry found the golden egg laying goose to expand profits by adding six-months of agony to the end of her life.
When colleges started getting thousands of new outside funded scholarship students they could jack up the costs without concern for market value of what they provide.
If not for granny’s free insurance a whole industry for, “the extension of the inevitable,” would not have driven the market price for health care to multiples of inflation; same with post-secondary education in Georgia…


February 17th, 2011
10:58 am

The fact that (some) US businesses provide health insurance is a historical accident. During the second world war, there were wage and price controls in place. Some large businesses were looking for ways to attract and retain employees during a labor shortage. Since they could not offer higher wages, they offered benefits such as health insurance which was cheap at the time.

Our use of businesses to provide health insurance is illogical, but that is what we have. Taking this burden off of businesses might enhance US competitiveness and offer greater relief than any reduction in corporate taxes. However, the best way to take this burden off of business is to put it on government.

[...] Gov. Deal, you are to transparent. In a recent interview, Nathan Deal argued against defunding of health care reform: “One of the real problems that some of us as governors foresee is that, if the mandates on states [...]


February 17th, 2011
11:05 am


Regarding Medicare: this program has much lower administrative costs than private health insurers. Supporters put administrative costs at 4-5%. Critics say it is double that. However, private health insurers have administrative costs around 20%. Medicare helps to reduce the overall cost of healthcare. Can it be improved further? Certainly. Since the vast majority of healthcare costs for most individuals occur in the last weeks of their lives, we have some hard decisions to make.

Regarding Hope: In spite of the Hope money, public universities in Georgia are among the least expensive in the nation. So, I don’t see how the argument that Hope has driven up prices holds. It is true that prices have risen significantly during the time we have had the Hope program, but that does not indicate causality. Cost have risen as much and more in other parts of the country that have no such program.

Oh Well

February 17th, 2011
12:04 pm

@deegee “When are we going to insist that people with lifestyle diseases such as obesity, drug addiction, and alcohol addiction pay more for their insurance than people that take care of themselves? Isn’t that part of the problem?”

The irony to the above to me is that I believe there are people who would gladly pay…but insurance companies have become their own “death panels” by determining who gets what.

Example: If you are a person who is obese, and you’ve tried every diet/exercise regiment, etc. and you still don’t have the success you see others have – you would HOPE that your insurance company would work with you and your board-certified doctor to consider other treatments that will help you…
but since your board-certified doctor has to deal with the insurance company’s registered nurse – guess who gets the final say? Riiiiight.

Using the items you listed above is about lifestyle…but what about those who develop cancer? Simply “taking care of themselves” isn’t the issue. Of course, that would mean that insurance companies couldn’t take a “cookie-cutter” approach to healthcare…


February 17th, 2011
12:15 pm

I understand why businesses offered health insurance to their employees. It should be a perk, not a requirement. I think that we could survive with a system where employers that want to provide health care can do so. Individuals that want to purchase their own health insurance should be able to participate in large pools like what exist now in the employer based system. Those that cannot afford health insurance should be means tested for government subsidized health insurance.


February 17th, 2011
1:25 pm

Employer sponsored healthcare was once pretty much standard with some exceptions. Employers also used to pay the entire cost. These programs have been declining for about 25-30 years. If you have one now, you should definitely consider it a perk.

There is a flaw in the argument that individuals who want insurance should be able to buy it. Historically, insurance was offered by “mutual” companies. The logic was to get as many people to buy as possible to spread the risk. When insurance companies became for profit entities, the emphasis shifted from spreading risk to limiting risk. The result is that they will insure you as long as you are healthy, and find a way to dump you when you are not.

The large pools you describe will help to some degree, but as long as (seemingly) healthy people can opt out, we are not adequately spreading the risk. Everyone should be required to buy health insurance – and “those that cannot afford health insurance should be means tested for government subsidized health insurance.

Not buying insurance because you are presently healthy is freeloading on the system, also know as “social loafing”


February 17th, 2011
1:42 pm

I agree with you, Bill. The fallacy in thinking that young, or otherwise healthy people don’t need health insurance is at the crux of the health care debate. Young people tend to have accidents that require catastrophic health care, i.e. snowboarding accidents, automobile accidents, falling off balconies during spring break accidents. Just because they are uninsured doesn’t mean they don’t get treatment. There are plenty of parents of uninsured young adults that rail against government mandated health insurance coverage, but the instant that their child is faced with a $100K + catastrophe they will almost always look around for some sort of government program that will help them with the bills.


February 17th, 2011
2:12 pm

I think we are in complete agreement. Our society has moral obligation (in my opinion) to care for anyone who get sick. In turn, everyone has a moral obligation to contribute to the system. Too many Americans seem to feel that as long as they have theirs, everyone else can fend for themselves.

There is also healthcare savings in making sure the everyone is covered. The poor tend to wait until problems have progressed before seeking help, and it is often more expensive to treat at this point. The poor and the uninsured also tend to get their healthcare at emergency rooms, which is the most expensive way to do it.

Real Athens

February 17th, 2011
7:23 pm

Wow. Thought provoking, researched, intellectual discourse without name calling on this blog. Deegee, Bill: Salutations.