Though once referred to as a “crazy tea-partier,” Georgia State Representative Scot Turner (R-21) ran his first campaign in 2012 on ethics and transparency.
On Wednesday night, Turner spoke to University of Georgia College Republicans and applied his ideals to the future of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, and the $1.65 million grant accepted by the University System of Georgia to help promote the act.
“That money has strings attached to it back to D.C.,” Turner said. “D.C. is pulling every string on every dollar, making your local government exactly what D.C. wants it to do. And so we have to get out of this idea that federal dollars are OK to take within the state without some sort of debate or discussion about whether or not to use it.”
Though the Navigator Grant, a grant used to provide area professionals and navigators’ to help consumers with the health insurance exchange in the state, awarded to UGA will have little to no immediate effect, Turner said the long term effects to come show no benefit to Georgians and students at UGA.
“I see no immediate effects, other than having an additional $1.7 million for the federal debt,” Turner said. “If the money is spent the way it’s supposed to be spent, I don’t see how it’s financially beneficial.”
The politician spoke on a brief history of the act, saying how “false promises” followed the passing of the act.
“The bill is 2,400 pages long,” Turner said. “To put that in perspective, our tax code, which is the most complicated piece of legislation that Congress deals with, is 13,000 pages. It was sold to the American people with a slew of false promises. It is so terribly bad for Georgians, and so terribly bad for America.”
Already, Turner said the bill affected employees and the spouses of employees of big companies such as Delta Airlines and UPS.
“Fifteen thousand people that are spouses of employees of UPS are going to be kicked off their health care plan – they don’t get to keep their health care plan, even though they liked to have access to it,” Turner said. “The pilots that had their insurance through Delta had what is called a ‘Cadillac plan.’ It was so expensive, it hurt Delta to keep that plan because of federal taxation, penalties and everything else that goes along with it. They had to ditch that Cadillac plan for pilots, so they don’t get to keep their health care plan.”
He moved on to discuss the provisions of funding the act.
“What are they actually taxing for Obamacare? Is there a sale of goods for profit? There is a mandate that forces you to pay a tax for basically doing nothing,” Turner said. “We have entered into the realm of taxing you simply for being.”
In the earlier stages of the passed bill, Turner said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal disagreed with the sanctions of the bill, and decided not to back the legislation.
“[There] is a level of bureaucracy that we have never seen before,” Turner said. “And for our state, it would have meant a huge amount of extra bureaucracy, and it wasn’t right for Georgia, and so the governor opted out.”
Colin Carr, a senior political science major from Marietta, said the main topic is “an issue very close to home” that will affect many Americans.
In his closing remark, Turner asked that students and activists against the bill and the grant contact their politicians to cast down and amend the act in any way possible — the effects may be postponed or omitted with enough support.
“We need to begin starting at the local level,” he said. “I think that every time your voice is heard is a viable thing.”