Attn Bobby Kahn: Fact Check

This week, in the race for Senator Johnny Grant’s Senate District 25, a mailer was sent, from the Democratic Party of Georgia, on behalf of Democratic Candidate Bruce Gilbert.

The mailer makes this claim: “Johnny Grant voted to eliminate breast cancer and autism screenings from basic health insurance coverage in Georgia. That’s just plain wrong.” The mailer then gives the following citation as “proof” of it’s claim: “Check the facts: SB 174 3/11/2005.”

Fact check: What passed out of the Senate Committee on Insurance and Labor and was subsequently voted upon on the floor of the Senate was a Committee Sub which may be seen .

This version contained coverage of newborns, complications of pregnancy, ovarian cancer screenings, colorectal cancer screenings, treatment of dependent children with cancer, diabetes self management training, child wellness exams, and mammograms, pap smears, and prostate cancer screenings under Georgia Code Section 33 – 30 – 4.2. This LC 21 8314S is the version that passed the Senate which you can see here.

The long and short of it is that if you go look at the public record, Senator Johnny Grant didn’t vote against mammograms, he actually voted to preserve them in the new law in Senate Vote #212 on March 11, 4:07 PM.

13 comments

  1. Seth,

    You are 100% incorrect in your reading of the bill that originally passed the Senate. In fact, if you think Johnny Grant’s vote was a good one, why did Renee Unterman, who voted against the bill on SV 212, say:

    “It’s a shame for Republican men to be in here doing this,” said Unterman, a former nurse. “It’s a shame what we’re doing. This has not been thought out enough.”

    Also, maybe you should consult Seth Harp:
    Another Republican, Sen. Seth Harp (R-Columbus), called the bill a “stinking dead horse.”

    The version that originally passed the Senate includes Section 39-59-3 parts (4) and (5).

    In plain English, these parts of the bill say:
    (4) ‘Standard health benefit plan’ means a health benefit policy that, in whole or in part, does not offer or provide state mandated health benefits, but that provides creditable coverage as defined by paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of Code Section 33-29A-2.

    And then in (5) it spells out all of the things left out, like the things in the mail piece.

    Here’s a funny thing though, if you look at the version the House passed, Section (4) and (5) are all of a sudden missing. So it looks like Renee Unterman was right — this was one of the worst bills to pass the Senate, and Johnny Grant voted for it. He also voted earlier in the day on SV 204 which engrossed the bill so prevented Senators like Unterman or Harp from amending the bill.

    Now Seth, I will also point out something, and that is this: Unlike Republican mail that I have seen, this mail piece and others the Democrats have sent out are well sourced and can be backed up in a fact check such as my comment. Meanwhile, the only “fact” I’ve seen checked on any Republican mail is plain wrong.

    Side story: A Nancy Schaefer piece paid for by the Republican party says Carol Jackson was the only Senator to vote against a child endangerment bill. Sure enough, when you check the Journal, the official record of the legislative body, you find out that Jackson immediately alerted the Secretary of the Senate that her machine had incorrectly recorded a “no” vote and that her actual vote was yet. You see, in the Senate unlike in the House you can’t see your vote until it is over, and these things can happen if you accidentally brush the wrong button.

    So there you have it. Democratic mail is backed up by facts, newspaper stories and the truth. Republican attack mail is just speculative. Don’t believe the hype.

    By the way, if anyone wants to see backup for the Unterman quotes please consult James Salzer’s article for the AJC on March 12, 2005 entitled “Legislature ’06: Insurance Bill Gets OK in Senate; Critics say it hurts women”.

  2. Finally, just like to add that this vote goes down as one of the worst votes of the Republican controlled assembly. A former high ranking legislator and statewide official told me that they worked so hard to get these mandates, particularly breast cancer screenings, in health care plans in the ’90’s and that it disgusts him to see them come in here and strip it out.

    Grant’s vote is what it is. Instead of trying to twist the facts and claim he didn’t vote for this horrendous bill, maybe he should explain to Georgians why he thinks the answer to our health insurance crisis is to water down insurance to a point where it may be “affordable” but actually doesn’t cover anything you expect it to?

  3. Clint Austin says:

    Chris,

    You are dead wrong and apparently can’t read because the bill plainly says that the new benefit plan MUST include mammograms and child wellness screenings. You’re either intentionally lying or illiterate to pretend otherwise.

    I encourage you and Bobby Kahn to go to the link below showing the Senate debate on the bill. Go to the 31:50 mark and listen to Sen. Cecil Staton present the bill. He specifically points out that the bill requires mammogram and child wellness screenings. The debate is on 3/11/05 – the same date as noted on the attack piece against Grant.

    Staton also points out the bill was endorsed by the American Cancer Society, the Pediatric Society, the Ovarian Cancer Society, and the OB-GYN’s.

    It is simply fantasy to think those groups would back this bill if eliminated mammogram and autism screenings.

    Kahn and Gilbert stepped in a pile on this one.

  4. Clint Austin says:

    The time I noted was wrong – go to the 34:30 mark. Staton makes the statement beginning at exactly 35:00.

    Also forgot the link: http://www.georgia.gov/00/article/0,2086,4802_47119422_33091490,00.html

    Go to this link, click on “11b” on March 11, 2005 and fastforward to the 34:30 mark and find out just how much Kahn and Gilbert lack any credibility whatsoever.

    Harp and Unterman may have said what you claim, but they did not say it in relation to mammograms and autism screening – period.

  5. MountainDawg says:

    Seth-
    They are doing the same thing to Nancy Schaefer, only with a worse spin. It must be the same canned mail piece. The only difference is it starts out by her opponent mentioning that she (Jackson) had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and she couldn’t believe Schaefer would vote against that bill. With all that said, however, I wouldn’t worry too much. This just shows the true state of the Democratic Party in Georgia. Even sad tactics like this mailer will not be effective enough to stop the bleeding for Georgia Democrats.

  6. MountainDawg says:

    Correction-the mailer points out that Carol Jackson couldn’t believe that Schaefer SUPPORTED the bill. Ya’ll knew what I meant!

  7. debbie0040 says:

    Duplicity must be part of the Democratic Party campaign strategy this year.

    In the House District 37 race, Terry Johnson (Roy Barnes cousin) sent out a postcard stating his GOP opponent Cindye Coates was against the the HOPE. She has gone on record as supporting HOPE .

    I can see why Terry would want to distract from his record.

    This is a seat that stands a good chance of changing from Democrat to Republican. The polls look good for Cindye.

  8. Seth Millican says:

    Chris,

    You’re dead wrong.

    With all due respect to Senators Harp and Unterman, they believed that the new set of mandates should include two coverages that weren’t on that bill. That’s why they opposed it. Incidentally, those items were included in the house version and Senator Harp voted in supported of final passage of the bill in Senate Vote 505. Senator Unterman was elswhere on Capitol business during that vote.

    The first part of your intepretation is backwards. The section of the bill in dealing with O.C.G.A. 39 – 59 – 3 is the section which delineates the mandated coverages that were left in the Georgia Code, not taken out. That’s the simple truth.

    I don’t even know what you’re trying to explain in reference to the House Bill, but if you go onto the legislative website and look at the version labeled “AP” (as passed), section….you guessed it 39 – 59 – 3 very clearly delineates, as did the version that passed the Senate, the mandated coverages that were left in, that is, not eliminated from the O.C.G.A.

  9. rightofcenter says:

    I don’t know about this bill, and frankly I don’t care. I do know Johnny Grant personally, and have for a long time. There is not a nicer, more sincere and honest person in the senate, and anyone who knows him will back that up. Gilbert is going to get clobbered, and that is because Johnny will mop the floor with him in normally Democratic Baldwin County. He has delivered big-time for Baldwin County (and GCSU), and it is by-far the largest portion of the district. I hear even the liberal professors at GCSU are holding their noses and voting for Johnny the Republican because he has done such a good job delivering.

  10. Mad Dog says:

    The bill guts protection for employees medical coverage.

    That includes cancer screenings and treatment.

    All the employer has to do is thank a Republican.

  11. Mad Dog says:

    If some idiot wants to use statements made during a floor debate as PROOF OF WHAT THE LAW DOES, go ahead.

    It just highlights GOP ignorance of law.

    It’s not the sales pitch, the debate, or the backslapping self congratulations.

    Its the language in the legislation and how it gets used by (in this case) insurance companies and employers.

    It has been used to cut employers cuts and employee benefits.

    This bill has not protected the average citizen or prevented the rising price of healthcare.

    The bill shifts the cost of preventive cancer screenings to the public sector from the private sector.

    Fewer cancer screenings means more aggressive cancer treatments for cancers that grew and advanced – undetected.

    It hurts everyone. Especially working families.

  12. Art Vandelay says:

    This is the kind of stuff I like to see on the Pundit. . . Thanks Seth and Clint for obviously spending some time trying to solve this.

    As a side note, it can be really hard to tell someone’s intentions on a vote to table a bill, to drop it to foot of the calendar, to engross it, etc. Obviously this bill had some issues- Grant, Hamrick, Harp and Renee all voted to table it, then Hamrick and Renee appear to have said they wanted to vote on it. There are strategies that some (I’m talking about members) miss or aren’t matold about, there are lots and lots of reasons why they vote the way they do on these motions. So, you just can’t always judge motives by those votes.

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