CARLTON FLETCHER: State insurance commissioner: Illnesses sick people's fault

OPINION: Ralph Hudgens applauds insurance exclusion for pre-existing illnesses

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Oh, how do you sleep at night?

John Lennon

Inexplicably, one of the hottest songs in America right now is the idiotic ditty “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” by some Norwegian dudes who call themselves Ylvis. (No, it’s not a play on Elvis, it has something to do with their actual names).

The band can’t quite figure out what it is that the elusive fox says, but they do manage to get commentary from several other, obviously less shy, animals.


To help the Ylvis boys get a jump-start on their inevitable “Fox” sequel, I offer (free of charge) this helpful tidbit:

What does the weasel say? “Well, a pre-existing condition would be you calling up your insurance agent and saying, ‘I’d like to get collision insurance coverage on my car,’ and your insurance agent says, ‘Well, you’ve never had that before. Why would you want it now?’ And you say, ‘Well, I just had a wreck, it was my fault and I want the insurance company to pay to repair my car.’ And that’s the exact same thing on pre-existing insurance.”

Ladies and gentleen, the hands-down Weasel of the Year: Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Hudgens, whose election to statewide office is as inexplicable as Ylvis’s 15 minutes of fame, is one of the world’s most outspoken critics of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. While campaigning for office, Hudgens met with the Editorial Board of this newspaper and left no doubt about his feelings on the legislation he contemptuously referred to as “Obamacare.”

In fact, he might have answered two questions during that hour-long meeting that didn’t include some dig at “Obamacare.” (In all fairness, there may have actually been three. I was numb after the first 13 minutes of listening to him rant.)

Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I’m not smart enough to suss out all the good and bad associated with the Affordable Care Act. But as someone who’s had insurance coverage denied because of a “pre-existing illness,” I can say that I applauded legislation that took that tiny bit of omnipotence from the increasingly greedy and sleazy insurance industry’s hands.

Just to clue Mr. Hudgens in — I’m sure he doesn’t know — on why he’s being vilified now for his idiotic — and, dare we say, weasely — remarks, which, by the way, reportedly drew chuckles galore from his audience, the CSRA Republican Woman’s Club of Augusta: Hard as it may be to conceive, people do not get sick on purpose. And, no doubt equally tough for the insurance commissioner to fathom, when people who pay years and years of government-mandated insurance premiums do actually get sick, they would like for the insurance company to uphold their part of the bargain.

“Oh, you got sick and had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days after paying 30 years’ worth of premiums that supposedly covered you for such eventualities? Tough luck, buck, we’re dropping you like a hot potato. Oh, and good luck trying to get more insurance now that you’ve got a pre-existing condition.”

See, Mr. Hudgens, here’s the thing. The people of Georgia thought they were electing you to represent their needs and look after their insurance concerns when they put you in the insurance commissioner’s office. They didn’t realize that your plan was to take care of the insurance companies, to make sure they weren’t held to any such standards that would require them to actually do what they said they would do when they started pocketing people’s premiums.

Oh, and to be fair, Hudgens did offer what I can assume passes for an apology after the furor over his comments reached all the way to the White House and President Obama, who condemned his words. “I have friends who have pre-existing conditions,” the commissioner said. I bet he tells folks he has “black” and “Jewish” and “poor” friends as well.

I thought about one more comment Mr. Hudgens made earlier this year as he went into full damage-control mode in the wake of his recent pre-existing illness comments: “The problem is Obamacare. And we (he and Gov. Nathan Deal) are doing everything in our power to be obstructionist.”

What does the weasel say indeed.