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December 05, 2013 11:59 AM Sick People and the Innocent Insurance Companies They Defraud

By Ed Kilgore

Being here in Georgia for a while has made me more acutely aware than before of the particularly exotic and uninhibited brand of Republican officeholders this state now breeds. Sure, it’s hard to miss the antics of a Paul Broun, Jr., even out there in California. But today we learn that longtime pol Ralph Hudgens, who is currently serving as State Insurance Commissioner, is capable of a howler himself, as reflected by this speech to a Republican women’s group last month (h/t Jim Galloway and Daniel Malloy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

The robust laughs of Hudgen’s audience when he compared pre-existing condition coverage to an ex post facto request for auto insurance collision coverage after a motorist causes a wreck is about as disgusting as the stupid analogy itself.

Since he’s an insurance regulator and all, you’d think Hudgens might be aware that the issue here is not some fresh request for coverage after a condition is incurred, but withdrawals of existing coverage by insurers when the insured gets sick, or the refusal to issue a policy when someone is forced into the individual market by, say, the loss of a job or an employer cancelling employee health benefits. Beyond that, of course, comparing getting sick to causing a car wreck is unfathomably dumb and immoral.

Most Republicans dance around the pre-existing condition issue, either pretending to favor non-discrimination even as they oppose the ACA provision outlawing it and favor “interstate sales” that would negate state regulations restricting discrimination. Often they rely on the ragged expedient of state-run “high-risk pools” that create a ghetto of crappy and expensive policies for those denied insurance in the market-place. But leave it to a Georgia Republican to come right out and label sick people denied health insurance as malefactors seeking to defraud poor innocent insurance companies.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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