Tag Archives: Georgia

Rising Obamacare premiums anger those paying full price

We tried to warn you.


From CNN Money: Shela Bryan, 63, has been comparing prices for individual health insurance plans since May, and she can’t believe what she sees. “They cost a thousand, $1,200 [a month], and they have a deductible of $6,000,” she said. “I don’t know how they think anyone can afford that.”

Bryan, who lives in Hull, Georgia, a hamlet of about 200 residents near Athens, was on her husband Tony’s insurance plan for decades. When Tony died in 2013, she continued his workplace coverage through COBRA, and she had to pay almost the full price of the insurance — about $800 a month. That was high, but it was “the Cadillac of insurance,” Bryan said, with low copays, prescription drug coverage and a $500 deductible. That option will run out in a few months.

Obamacare Screw U

So she is turning to the individual insurance marketplace in what is shaping up to be the most expensive year for the 400,000 or so consumers in Georgia who buy individual policies but don’t purchase them on the Obamacare exchanges.

About 10 million Americans buy individual insurance coverage either on or off the exchanges and get no federal subsidies to help bring down the cost, according to the Congressional Budget Office. About the same number get the financial assistance for the plans they purchase on the exchanges.

“For those receiving subsidies, the subsidy protects them against the increase. If they’re not eligible, they’ll be paying a lot more. And the more premiums go up, the higher the cliff,” said William Custer, a health policy and insurance expert at Georgia State University.

In Georgia, consumers who don’t get insurance through their employers or don’t qualify for tax credits to help pay for policies they purchase are facing double-digit premium increases. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, the only insurer offering plans throughout the state, received an increase of more than 21% from the state insurance commissioner. Humana was awarded a 67.5% hike.

Numbers like those are rattling other states too. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee was granted a 62% rate hike, while state officials approved a 46% increase for Cigna. Florida authorities gave plans there an average 19% bump. And last week, Minnesota officials announced that premiums for the seven insurers on the individual market are rising 50% to 67%.

The insurers are now adjusting for some miscalculations, said Graham Thompson, executive director of the Georgia Association of Health Plans. “The prices are up this year, but our hope is that things will settle down after this year,” he said.

While consumers have faced sticker shock, the insurers have faced what might be called “sicker shock,” which has sent their prices spiraling. They are adjusting premiums after finding that the pool of clients buying plans on the individual market were sicker and more costly than expected when the health law was implemented.

Judge Judy shakes head rolls eyes

Almost two-thirds of Americans get their coverage from plans offered through their workplaces. But those who don’t can buy either on or outside the health law’s marketplaces, also called exchanges. Those with marketplace coverage who earn up to 400% of the federal poverty level — $47,520 for an individual — are entitled to a subsidy, and federal officials say most will pay less than $75 a month for insurance.

Policies sold off the marketplaces must still meet health law standards and the same prices as plans offered on the exchange, according to Linda Blumberg, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. Federal and Georgia officials note that customers can change plans each year to find a better price, but that also can result in higher deductibles and may force a change in doctors to stay in network.

Bryan, a maintenance supervisor who makes just over the $47,520 limit for a subsidy, finds herself in that market now. She could end up paying as much as $14,000 in premiums for a pared-back policy the likes of which she had never imagined, she said, with no coverage for her asthma and high blood pressure medications. The cheapest policies amount to more than a quarter of her yearly income, or double her mortgage, she noted.  That total package would increase her premiums $4,400 over what she is paying for her COBRA plan and raise her deductibles by $5,800. And that was based on 2016 premium prices.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that as many as 2.5 million nationally may be eligible for a subsidy and not know it.

Bob Laszewski

Bob Laszewski

Bob Laszewski, a health policy strategist in Washington, D.C., said the Obama administration and health care advocates need to listen to the complaints of the those who do not receive assistance.

“These people are invisible,” Laszewski said. The ACA “is working very well for lower income people, but the Obamacare supporters missed the fact that if you’re raising a family of four on $100,000, you’re not rich. This is the … guy who remodeled your house, who drives a pickup truck and he’s wearing a Trump hat.”



Court strikes down proof-of-citizenship voting requirement in 3 states

What could possibly go wrong?

voter fraud6

From Fox News: A federal appeals court on Friday blocked Kansas, Georgia and Alabama from requiring residents to prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote using a national form.

The 2-1 ruling is a victory for voting rights groups who said a U.S. election official illegally changed proof-of-citizenship requirements on the federal registration form at the behest of the three states.

People registering to vote in other states are only required to swear that that they are citizens, not show documentary proof.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia acted swiftly in the case, issuing a two-page, unsigned ruling just a day after hearing oral arguments. A federal judge in July had refused to block the requirement while the case is considered on the merits.

The League of Women Voters and civil rights groups argued that the requirements could lead to the “mass disenfranchisement” of thousands of potential voters — many of them poor, African-American and living in rural areas.

Brian Newby

Brian Newby

The groups took issue with the actions of Brian Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, who changed the federal form shortly after he took the job last November. Newby is a former Kansas election official who had publicly supported the state’s effort to make the change.

The case now returns to the district court for a full hearing on the merits. But the appeals court said the voting rights groups are likely to succeed on the merits.

The change requires people seeking to register to show birth certificates, naturalization papers or other documents as proof of citizenship. Kansas has been actively enforcing the requirement, but Alabama and Georgia have not.

Opponents said Newby had no authority to take the action on his own. Even the Justice Department has refused to defend Newby’s action and has sided with voting rights groups.

The appeals court’s ruling requires the commission to immediately remove the proof-of-citizenship requirement from all forms. It requires the states to treat all registration applications filed since January 29 as if they did not have the requirement.

Judges Judith Rogers and Stephen Williams were in the majority and Judge A. Raymond Randolph dissented. Rogers was a Democratic appointee, while Williams and Randolph were appointed by Republican presidents.

The EAC was created in 2002 to help avoid a repeat of the disputed 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore following ballot confusion in Florida. It is supposed to have four commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, but one of the Democratic seats is currently vacant. The remaining commissioners never acted to approve or disapprove Newby’s action.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had argued that the change was needed to prevent voter fraud. He rejected claims that the requirement undermined voter registration, saying Kansas voter rolls have risen overall this year.


Aetna ditching 70% of its ObamaCare business

Obamacare: Going as planned.

tried to warn you

Via NY Post: Insurance giant Aetna won’t be offering coverage under ObamaCare next year in 11 of the 15 states it now serves — an announcement that instantly became an issue in the presidential race.

Aetna’s decision led Donald Trump to charge that President Obama’s health care reform was “imploding.” “Aetna’s decision to leave the Affordable Care Act’s public marketplaces is the latest blow to this broken law that is slowly imploding under its regulatory red tape,” said Trump campaign deputy national policy director Dan Kowalski.

Millions of Americans have lost their health coverage under this disastrous policy, eliminating their ability to choose their doctors. Thousands of businesses have been forced to cut employment or shutter their doors in response to Obama’s signature achievement,” he added.

The company had previously warned that it expected to lose more than $300 million this year on the 900,000 patients it covers under the Affordable Care Act. Aetna said it is pulling out of ObamaCare markets in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

Aetna does not currently offer the policies in New York. It does offer other medical insurance to individuals and small businesses as well as large employers in the state, officials said. It will continue to offer policies in Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska and Virginia.

ObamaCare is credited with expanding coverage to millions of previously uninsured or under-insured people.

O laughs

But insurers have complained they have lost money on the policies. United Health Group and Humana are other insurers exiting ObamaCare plans.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, in a statement, said there were not enough younger, healthier customers signing up to make ObamaCare policies sustainable. “The vast majority of payers have experienced continued financial stress within their individual public exchange business. Providing affordable, high-quality health care options to consumers is not possible without a balanced risk pool,” Bertolini said.

More than a dozen nonprofit insurance co-ops have shut down in the past couple years. The pullouts could spell trouble because competition is supposed to help control price increases.

Some states like Alaska and Oklahoma will be left with only one insurer selling ObamaCare plans to individuals in 2017. More densely populated states like New York say their ObamaCare markets remain strong.

But rates for customers are skyrocketing to maintain stability.

Obamacare Screw U

Citing increased medical costs, New York recently authorized insurers offering individual ObamaCare plans to increase premiums by an average 16.6 percent — the highest rate hike in the program’s four-year existence. New York’s small businesses will get hit with an average 8.3 percent rate hike.


Police officers pay for motel room, help raise $150G for homeless teen who biked six hours to college

Fred Barley/Facebook photo

Fred Barley/Facebook photo

From Fox News: More than $150,000 dollars have been raised for a Georgia 19-year-old who was found sleeping in a tent outside the gates of his college last weekend. 

Fred Barley, who is homeless, was discovered by two police officers responding to a trespassing call near a parking lot at Gordon State College in Barnesville. He told the officers he had ridden his little brother’s bicycle six hours to register for classes for his second semester of college. 

In addition to the bike, Barley had two duffel bags containing all his wordly possessions and two gallons of water. All he had to eat, according to a report by WSB, was a box of cereal.

“After meeting Fred, I could tell he was a good kid,” Gordon State College Police Officer Dicky Carreker told the Barnesville Herald-Gazette. “He was a young kid who had been dealt a bad hand and was trying to make the best out of it. All he wanted was a job.

Carreker and Barnesville Police Officer Maria Gebelein told Barley he couldn’t stay in the tent, but they knew someplace he could stay. The officers brought Barley to a nearby motel and paid for two nights accomodation.

“The stuff that’s happening with police officers, I am black and he didn’t care what color I was,” Barley told WSB. “He just helped me, and that meant a lot.”

The story, however, doesn’t end there. After Carreker posted the story on Facebook, members of the community rallied behind Barley. A GoFundMe page on Barley’s behalf had raised $150,000 dollars as of Saturday afternoon. 

The owner of a local pizzeria hired him as a dishwasher and promised to work around his class scheduled (Barley wants to major in biology). Other residents have donated clothes, food and a new bike.

“I was not expecting any of this support and am in awe of how this community has come together to help me,” Barley told the Herald-Gazette. “I was just trying to go to school, find a job and make it on my own. Now it seems as though I am part of a new community and have a new family.”


Fired for preaching: Georgia dumps doctor over church sermons

Dr. Eric Walsh/Photo courtesy of First Liberty

Dr. Eric Walsh/Photo courtesy of First Liberty

From Todd Starnes at Fox News: Bi-vocational pastors be warned – what you say from the pulpit on Sunday could get you fired from your public sector job on Monday.

Dr. Eric Walsh, a renowned public health expert who also serves as a lay minister, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Public Health alleging he was terminated for delivering sermons on issues ranging from homosexuality to evolution.

 “No one in this country should be fired from their job for something that was said in a church or from a pulpit during a sermon,” said First Liberty attorney Jeremy Dys. First Liberty, one of the nation’s largest law firms defending religious liberty, is representing the Seventh Day Adventist lay minister.

They contend that the Georgia Department of Public Health assigned workers to investigate sermons Dr. Walsh delivered on health, marriage, sexuality, world religions, science and creationism. He also preached on what the Bible says about homosexuality. “He was fired for something he said in a sermon,” Dys told me. “If the government is allowed to fire someone over what he said in his sermons, they can come after any of us for our beliefs on anything.” First Liberty has accused the government agency of religious discrimination and retaliation.

“I don’t believe I did anything wrong,” Dr. Walsh told me in an exclusive interview. “This has been very painful for me. I really am a strong believer in the Constitution. But now I feel like maybe all these ideals and values that I was raised to believe – the ideals they country was founded upon – no longer exist.

A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) did not return telephone calls nor did they respond to email inquiries.

First Liberty said Walsh was hired as a district health director on May 7, 2014. A few days later, DPH officers and other government workers began investigating his religious activities. “DPH officers and other employees spent hours reviewing these and other of Dr. Walsh’s sermons and other public addresses available online, analyzing and taking notes on his religious beliefs and viewpoints on social, cultural and other matters of public concern as expressed in the sermons and other public addresses,” the lawsuit states.

The behavior of the DPH was so egregious that its own counsel twice warned them on May 15 that “under federal law Dr. Walsh’s religious beliefs could play no role in any employment decision by DPH.”

But on May 16, the DPH announced it had rescinded the job offer that Dr. Walsh had already accepted. “Today’s action by the department follows a thorough examination of Dr. Walsh’s credentials and background as well as consultation with the six local boards of health which comprise the district,” spokesman Ryan Deal said in a news release.

And the Department of Public Health wasn’t the only organization concerned about the pastor’s sermons.

Health Initiative Executive Director Linda Ellis

Health Initiative Executive Director Linda Ellis

The Georgia Voice reported that the Health Initiative, an Atlanta-based group committed to LGBT health issues, strongly opposed Welsh’s hiring.  “Dr. Walsh’s public displays of anti-gay propaganda and religious rhetoric will become symbols of the department and will further isolate an already vulnerable population. We believe this hire is detrimental to the wellbeing of our community, as well as to the effectiveness of the Department to conduct meaningful outreach to LGBT Georgians,” Executive Director Ellis told the publication.

Based on documents First Liberty obtained through a FOIA request, it is clear there was some internal concerns about how Dr. Walsh had been treated. In spite of the DPH’s internal witch hunt against Dr. Walsh, at least one unnamed staffer wrote a memo warning that the entire controversy had been blown “impossibly out of proportion.”

“Not only is there no smoking gun, there is every reason to believe, even from his detractors own words, that he is the excellent health director we believed he would be,” the staffer wrote in a document obtained by First Liberty through a FOIA request. “If we do not hire this applicant on the basis of the evidence of job performance and disqualify him on the basis of discrimination by those who seek to advance their own agenda and do him harm, I believe we are no better than they are,” the staffer concluded.

The unnamed staffer’s concerns were ignored and Dr. Walsh was terminated.

Dr. Walsh was catapulted into the national spotlight earlier in 2014 when he was invited to deliver the commencement address at Pasadena City College in California.  Walsh, who was then the director of the city’s public health department, came under fierce scrutiny from LGBT activists and students. He backed out of the speaking engagement. But critics persisted and he was forced to resign his post – after reaching a financial settlement with the city.

Dys tells me that what happened to Dr. Walsh should give every American the chills. “The idea of those government employees dividing up the sermons is unthinkable,” he said. “Religious liberty means we should be able to find sanctuary in our own sanctuary.”

Read the whole story here.


Georgia rolls out redesigned license plate featuring Confederate flag

Liberals’ heads explode in 3, 2, 1…


WTSP.com: The Confederate battle flag is making a return appearance to Georgia license plates. The specialty tag devoted to the Sons of Confederate Veterans will return after a minor redesign.

The state is saying as little as possible about this. Governor Deal is out of the country. And the state revenue department, which issues license plates, is only saying that it has had “positive conversations” about the plate with the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV).

The Confederate battle flag “was something that we couldn’t change,” said Dan Coleman, spokesman for the Georgia SCV. The SCV fights on behalf of the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of Southern heritage.

When a white supremacist shot and killed nine African Americans in Charleston SC in July, that state’s governor ordered the battle flag taken down from the grounds of the state capitol. In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered a redesign of the state plate that honors the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Coleman says the redesign will eliminate the background Confederate flag, while keeping the foreground Confederate flag. “The governor did what he said he would do: Take that backdrop off it. We can live with that,” Coleman said.

Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta)

Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta)

But the move angered people who want the state government to stop using the battle flag, saying it’s identified nowadays as a symbol of white supremacy. “This governor had a chance to bring people together. And I think he muffed it,” said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta). Fort says Gov. Deal should have followed South Carolina’s lead and eliminated the battle flag symbol. “What that Confederate flag symbolizes is just so hateful and so mean-spirited that to say that ‘we’ll compromise by only slapping you once’ is not acceptable,” Fort said Thursday.

Georgia’s new Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plate is expected to be available to paying customers in the next few weeks.


Sunday Morning Funnies



A Florida senior citizen drove his brand new Corvette convertible out of the dealership. Taking off down the road, he pushed it to 80 mph, enjoying the wind blowing through what little hair he had left.

Amazing,” he thought as he flew down I-95, pushing the pedal even more.

Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw a Florida State Trooper, blue lights flashing and siren blaring. He floored it to 100 mph, then 110, then 120. Suddenly he thought, “What am I doing? I’m too old for this!” and pulled over to await the trooper’s arrival.

Pulling in behind him, the trooper got out of his vehicle and walked up to the Corvette. He looked at his watch, then said, “Sir, my shift ends in 30 minutes. Today is Friday. If you can give me a new reason for speeding – a reason I’ve never before heard – I’ll let you go..”

The old gentleman paused then said, “Three years ago, my wife ran off with a Florida State Trooper. I thought you were bringing her back.”

Have a good day, Sir,” replied the trooper.


The owner of a golf course in Georgia was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help.

He called her into his office and said, “Y’all graduated from theUniversity of Georgia and I need some help. If I wuz to give yew $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?”

The secretary thought a moment, and then replied, “Everthang but my earrings.”


A senior citizen in Louisiana was overheard saying, “When the end of the world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana .”

When asked why, he replied, “I’d rather be in Louisiana ‘cause everythang happens in Louisiana 20 years later than in the rest of the world.”


The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and said to his buddy, “Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking lot!”

Bubba replied, “Did y’all see who it was?”

The young man answered, “I couldn’t tell, but I got the license number.”

North Carolina

A man in North Carolina had a flat tire, pulled off on the side of the road, and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of the car and one behind it. Then he got back in the car to wait.

A passerby studied the scene as he drove by, and was so curious he turned around and went back. He asked the fellow what the problem was.

The man replied, “I got a flat tahr.”

The passerby asked, “But what’s with the flowers?”

The man responded, “When you break down they tell you to put flares in the front and flares in the back. I never did understand it neither.”


A Tennessee State trooper pulled over a pickup on I-65. The trooper asked, “Got any ID?”

The driver replied, “Bout whut?”


The Sheriff pulled up next to the guy unloading garbage out of his pick-up into the ditch. The Sheriff asked, “Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch? Don’t you see that sign right over your head.”

Yep,” he replied. “That’s why I’m dumpin’ it here, ‘cause it says: ‘Fine For Dumping Garbage.’”

Y’all kin say whut y’all want ‘about the South, but y’all never heard o’ nobody retirin’ an’ movin’ North.

~Steve~                          H/T  Wild Bill Alaska