A candidate for the state insurance commissioner’s office said he beliees the recently signed health care overhaul won’t pass Constitutional muster.
Harold Logsdon, the former mayor of Peachtree City, told Effingham County Republicans the sweeping health care reform package pushed through Congress and signed into law two weeks ago was unconstitutional.
“The health care bill changed the dynamics of everything,” Logsdon said Saturday morning. “I’m not sure this bill will pass the Constitutionality test. But it’s going to take a long time. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with our governor and any state attorney general.”
There are 1.7 million Georgians without health insurance now, Logsdon said, and under the provisions of the heath care act, they won’t be covered for another four years. Fifty-five percent of the state’s residents have employer-purchased health coverage and another 29 percent already are covered by a government plan. The rest have no insurance.
“We’ve got a health care system that is not dysfunctional. It is one of the best in the world,” Logsdon said.
But what needs to happen, he said, is placing health insurance choices in the hands of individuals. Doing so could make companies offer plans that reward policyholders for practicing healthy habits that can be used as credits against premiums.
“You don’t get that when the company owns your plan,” Logsdon said, adding employers currently get tax breaks when purchasing health insurance but individuals do not. “This whole thing needs to be looked at. The Democratic plan is not a good plan.”
Logsdon said he has been an advocate for finding ways for more affordable plans so Georgia’s uninsured can acquire coverage. The lack of coverage for nearly 17 percent of the state results in a negative $6.6 billion impact on the state’s economy, he said.
“We believe we can get about a third of those under insurance. That will represent a $2 billion shot in the arm to Georgia’s economy,” he said. “I am a free market, free enterprise guy. I think the private sector can come up with a better plan better than any government mandated program ever put down on us from Washington.
“Capitalism has done more to bring people out of poverty than any social program.”
Logsdon also warned that the quest to allow selling health insurance plans across state lines may not be so enticing after all.
“It sounds good if you say it real fast,” he said.
Senate Bill 407 addressed some of his concerns about the selling of health insurance plans across state lines. The bill sets up a consortium of states bordering Georgia to allow for reciprocity agreements.
But the mandates — almost four dozen of them, according to Logsdon — that could be placed on out-of-state plans will eliminate any of the potential savings.
“Before anybody can sell a policy from another state, it has to meet all the mandates that are required by Georgia’s laws,” Logsdon said. “That really levels the playing field, but it really stops people from selling across state lines because there is no advantage. We’ve got to work toward creating some competition within the state if we want to lower prices.”
One change Logsdon is in favor of is allowing for the sale of catastrophic health coverage plans.
Logsdon retired from BellSouth after 36 years and also served as a colonel in the Georgia Army National Guard, where he spent 38 years. He was also mayor of Peachtree City in Fayette County from 2005-09.
Peachtree City, with a population of almost 35,000, had about 250 employees and an annual budget of $28 million. The state insurance commissioner’s office, Logsdon said, has about 250 employees and a $13 million budget.
While mayor of Peachtree City, the city cut its budget by nearly 10 percent, maintained a AAA bond rating and increased public safety by 30 percent, Logsdon noted, and was named the eighth best place in America to live in 2005 by Money magazine.
“And all without an increase in taxes,” Logsdon said. “I know how to manage taxpayer dollars. My opponents talk about it; I’ve done it.”
He also said there are other issues in the insurance commissioner’s office, including questions on repairs after accidents. He also espoused sharing resources to beef up arson investigations. There are 12 state arson investigators, while Florida has nearly 100.
“Arson is costing Georgians hundreds of millions of dollars every year. But it’s a problem that has a solution,” he said.
Most cities of any size and most counties have arson investigators, Logsdon said. What he would like to see is for those resources to be shared so the insurance commissioner’s office doesn’t have to go to the General Assembly to ask for more money that doesn’t exist to hire more arson investigators.
“There are enough arson investigators on taxpayer payrolls today,” he said. “In Fayette County, we learned to play nice in the sandbox.”
Logsdon is one of eight Republicans seeking to replace John Oxendine as state insurance commissioner. Oxendine is running for governor as Sonny Perdue’s second term ends.
“So it must be a good job,” Logsdon joked.
He also alluded to Oxendine’s current campaign for the state’s top office as a detriment to the current office he holds.
“We have to have a commissioner who is paying attention on a daily basis,” he said. “The insurance commissioner’s office has been looked at and managed by the same pair of eyes for the last 16 years.”