A hint that Blue Cross/Blue Shield could withdraw from health care exchanges

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Over at Georgia Health News, Andy Miller has the most worrisome news of the morning – a strong hint that the parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia may be pulling out of a number of its exchange markets across the country. Writes Miller:

In Georgia, Blue Cross is currently the only exchange health insurer in 96 of the 159 counties. Even a partial pullout would create a vacuum in areas of the state.

 

Anthem Inc., the parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, “is leaning toward exiting a high percentage of the 144 rating regions in which it currently participates,” Jefferies analysts David Windley and David Styblo said in a research report.

This isn’t good news for Georgia’s already struggling rural hospitals.

 

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As long as we’re talking health: The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that Columbus will be the site of a three-year, first-of-its kind project to screen every senior citizen for memory loss and to test tens of thousands of residents for their genetic risk of Alzheimer’s.

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On Tuesday, we told you that Gov. Nathan Deal and other officials would be taking a ride on MARTA this morning to emphasize the rail service as an alternative to an inoperable I-85. But the ride has been cancelled. The governor is staying put, monitoring storms moving through north Georgia.

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A round of new polling is showing that support for 6th District special election candidates is beginning to crystalize in the final two weeks of the race.

In a pair of new polls unveiled yesterday from 11Alive News and the liberal MoveOn.org, Democrat Jon Ossoff held a commanding lead of the crowded field with between 40 and 43 percent of likely voters. That’s about the same as he’s been polling in other surveys over the last few weeks and still puts him below the needed 50 percent threshold to win the race outright.

Meanwhile, both polls show former secretary of state Karen Handel leading the race’s 11 Republicans. What’s unclear is whether she needs to sweat about securing the second seat in the expected June runoff.

The MoveOn.org survey shows Handel with 18 percent support among likely voters, more than double that of former Johns Creek city councilman Bob Gray and former State Sen. Dan Moody. But 11Alive News reported that Gray only sits a percentage point away from Handel.

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The Sixth District congressional campaign of former state senator Judson Hill, a Republican, says that this morning it launched its ad in the expensive world of broadcast television. No word on the size of the buy, but this is the name-ID ad they’ll be pushing out:

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Since early voting started in the Sixth District last month, Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications has been making daily checks on who is casting ballots. Each day, he said, half have been voters who have previously participated in Democratic primaries – an obvious sign of enthusiasm among supporters for Jon Ossoff. However, Rountree said he doubts the percentage will hold through the April 18 election, and expects Ossoff to finish in the low to mid-40s.

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The New York Times has a piece on Democrats springing up in the Sixth District, which has historically been a GOP stronghold:

With the national media descending on Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, and outside money pouring in, the contest is viewed as a major test of whether a wave of left-wing activism since Mr. Trump’s inauguration will produce change at the ballot box.

 

Ms. Cox’s group is one of more than a dozen popping out like dogwood blooms in these comfortable suburbs of brick homes, shopping malls and technology companies. They have names like the Johns Creek-Milton Progressives Network, Roswell Resistance Huddle and Liberal Moms of Roswell and Cobb.

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Remember how we told you that Robb Pitts on Tuesday would sign up to run for chairman of the Fulton County Commission? Well, he did.

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We have yet another state House member in the race to be secretary of state. State Rep. Brad Raffensperger, R-Johns Creek, announced his candidacy on Tuesday. He joins state Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, on the GOP side of the ledger. Former Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, D-Lithonia, is running on the other side. Raffensperger is in the middle of his second term in the House.

The Republican incumbent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp,  announced last week that he’s running for governor. From the press release:

“As an engineer, a general contractor and as the owner of a manufacturing business, I’ve worked and built projects in more than 30 states across the country. I have seen first-hand just how easy some states make it to do business, while other states make it hard. As secretary of state, I will work to ensure Georgia is a friendly place to bring new business.”

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Gov. Nathan Deal has weighed in on the state Senate race to replace Judson Hill. The governor endorsed Gus Makris, who is in a crowded field to represent District 32, dominated by east Cobb County.

Makris, a tax attorney, is among a handful of Republicans in the April 18 special election. Deal usually doesn’t wade into intra-party fights. Case in point: He’s steering clear of the congressional special election race. But we’re told that Deal has a soft spot for Makris, who helped with his reelection campaign.

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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will be in Washington this morning testifying on behalf of the latest bipartisan transportation bill that then- President Barack Obama signed in 2015.

The Democrat will be testifying on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors at a hearing about how to implement the law locally. The statute gave the green light to $305 billion over five years for highways, public transportation and other infrastructure programs. But Reed is also likely to give a mention to last week’s collapse of I-85.

Stream the hearing here beginning at 10 a.m.

 


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