As of last Friday, Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, had not received a reply from Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Hudgens had penned a very public letter to the Secretary, requesting a 30-day extension for Georgia’s approval of seven company insurers competing to provide health insurance coverage within the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) healthcare exchange program. The letter made reference to “massive rate increases” and requested that Department “show cause” as to why the increases were not justified in light of the ACA. See original Statement from Commissioner Hudgens.
Hudgens’ letter was dated July 29 (one day before the Commissioner’s deadline to submit his findings to HHS). He requested that a response be delivered on July 30.
According to the letter, of the seven actuaries hired to evaluate the participant insurers’ submissions, six had deemed the submissions as “justifiable” within the ACA. One actuary reported that one of the submissions was 11 percent above the justifiable range.
The commissioner cited one instance in which a non-smoking male, aged 24 years, would likely experience an increase in his insurance premium from between 85-198 percent.
Bill Custer, director of The Center for Health Services Research within Georgia State University, believes this estimate is in anomaly. Custer notes that some premiums will rise for certain individuals (most notably for males and young people) in order to spread risk amongst patient population segments.
“The law requires that insurance companies bring in sick people, and bringing in sick people increases risk and costs. However, I don’t expect an increase of more than 20 percent in any one class of insured people [in the exchange].”
Custer notes that provisions within the law limit large rate disparities between customer classes. A 3:1 ratio cannot be exceeded (meaning a rate for one class cannot exceed three times the cost of any other rate class).
A post on The Pickens County GOP website gained national attention on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. The screenshot was taken from the Comedy Central website.
A Thursday, July 25 post on the Pickens County GOP website caught the eye of Comedy Central’s Steven Colbert, who on the Thursday, Aug. 1 edition of the Colbert Report chaffs the local political party.
But a representative with the local GOP says the comments weren’t originally theirs, and that they simply reposted a story from another website to “provide information and to educate people about news going on in the country.”
Thomas Fountain needs your votes
Jasper-born Thomas Fountain has made it into the semi-finals for the title of Georgia County Male Artist of the Year through Georgia-Country.com and he needs your help taking home the title.
Fountain, who was raised in Jasper and who currently lives Ball Ground, is one of 12 remaining musicians competing in this category in the state.
Fountain was a former member of the popular local cover band 53 West, but stepped away from music for a while before returning last year with a new vision and a new direction.
Transportation Director says previous chaos led to safety issues
Some parents of Pickens County students say the recent changes to the bus transportation policy have left them scrambling to find childcare after school lets out.
But the school system’s transportation director Bruce Godfrey said the changes have been put in place for the sole reason of keeping Pickens students safe, not to make it easier on bus drivers or the system as a whole.
Updated at 11 a.m. Wednesday -- most roads in Pickens County now open. Gennett still closed to thru traffic, Mineral Springs closed and Eagle Perch area near Yellow Creek still has roads closed. Road crews in Eagle Perch area. All emergency crews return to standby status.
Emergency crews work to remove a trapped resident from Wigington Lane.
The rescue was completed successfully this morning.
Fire Chief Bob Howard said this morning the same areas that saw flash floods last week are getting hit again by heavy rains with Burnt Mountain Road closed or narrowed to one lane is several spots due to down trees and more mudslides. A rescue requiring a raft was completed with no injuries at a Wigington Lane residence.
Flooding in the roadways was reported at Old Philadelphia and Talking Rock Highway intersection; and the Highway 136 junction with Jones Mountain.
The city of Jasper saw many streets flooded and Gennett Drive collapse, similar to Tamarack Drive in Bent Tree last week. Mineral Springs is also closed.
In Talking Rock, Talona Creek is up 7- 10 feet over normal flow. Sheriff officers have asked for a voluntarily evacuation of campers at Talona Creek Campground. The bridge over Talona Creek on Whitestone Road is closed.
Updating an earlier story, Cove Road is open with no problems reported.
Gennett Drive in Jasper gave way completely this morning in heavy rains, also taking out a water line. In Photo, Mayor John Weaver in red discusses options with Charlotte Fortner from the city's public works department. They are separated by a deep chasm.