That time when Karen Handel lobbied for Obamacare protections

Former secretary of state Karen Handel, one of 11 Republicans vying for the 6th District congressional seat, has left little ambiguity about her position on the Affordable Care Act on the campaign trail.

“The status quo -- Obamacare -- is not acceptable,” Handel said recently.

On Wednesday, the Atlanta Press Club will host a Sixth District debate in which candidates will be invited to ask questions of one another. With health care still stirring the pot in Washington, one topic likely to come up, we're given to understand, is Handel’s previous role as a top lobbyist for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the breast cancer-focused nonprofit. She and Komen had an epic falling out in 2012 after the organization first cut, then restored funding for Planned Parenthood.

Federal disclosure forms from 2011 and 2012, when Handel was with Komen, show that Handel lobbied Congress and federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services on aspects of Obamacare as it was being implemented. The filings say Handel was lobbying specifically on “patient protection provisions,” aka the law’s so-called “essential health benefits,” which became a focal point of the House GOP’s repeal effort last month.

Komen in the past has not advocated for Obamacare outright, but pushed for provisions that would provide “access to and coverage for quality preventative programs as well as affordable and quality treatment for women and men facing breast cancer.”

“Obamacare was passed months before my first day at Komen. I thought it was bad legislation in 2010 and I support full repeal and replacement of the law today.


My time at Komen has been well publicized and scrutinized, especially my departure over the funding of Planned Parenthood. A small part of my job at Komen included advocating that mammogram screenings be covered under plans available on the exchanges —just as they are covered in other plans in Georgia. I think we can all agree that women deserve access to life saving, early detection procedures.”

Read the filings here, here, here and here.

Meanwhile, Handel’s campaign reported that it has raised $436,000 so far and had more than $183,000 in the bank with two weeks until Election Day. Her camp said that nearly 90 percent of her 831 donors came from within the state, although details were not yet available.

Handel pulled in slightly less than fellow Republican Judson Hill, who reported $483,000 in donations so far. 6th District candidates are required to file their fundraising haul later this week.


Former state lawmaker Sally Harrell, who dropped out of the Sixth District congressional race, today endorsed Jon Ossoff, urging fellow Democrats to line up behind the former congressional aide. From the press release, quoting Harrell: “No spoiler candidates. No staying home. It’s time to get up, out and take action.”


We’re told that Robb Pitts today will file the necessary paperwork to run for the chairmanship of the Fulton County Commission. Incumbent John Eaves is running for mayor of Atlanta.


Congress’ two-week spring recess is around the corner, and it’s a popular time for lawmakers to hold town hall meetings with their constituents. There’s been added pressure for these events this year amid a surge of civic activism since President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice is getting an early start. The Monroe Republican’s office announced he’ll be holding a telephone town hall tonight at about 6:15. The call in number is (832)-225-5885 Ext.34909# and you can also RSVP online here.

In south Georgia, Albany Democrat Sanford Bishop said he’ll be holding an in-person town hall in Donalsonville on April 13.


Former President Jimmy Carter, 92, will give a free public lecture on “Human Rights in Today's World," at 2:45 p.m. Thursday at Glenn Memorial Auditorium on the Emory University campus. The event is open to the public, but attendees must register online by clicking here.

This gives us the opportunity to point you to the op-ed piece in Roll Call, written by former Carter speech-writer Walter Shapiro, who is upset by a growing tendency to compare President Donald Trump’s slow start and unpopularity with that of President Carter. A few paragraphs:

I am groping for the best way to describe the historical amnesia embedded in this wrongheaded Carter-equals-Trump equation. It is akin to saying that Carter’s 1976 campaign confession that he had nurtured “lust” in his heart was comparable to Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape bragging about sexual assault.


What has been lost in the mists of history is that Carter remained a relatively popular president during his first year in office with his approval rating in the Gallup Poll never dropping below 50 percent.


…Billy Carter, the scapegrace brother of the 39th president, kept coming up with outlandish schemes (Billy Beer) to profit off his White House connection. But there was also a big difference — Billy Carter never served in government nor did he operate a brewery with the Carter name on it a few blocks from the White House.


Over at the New York Times, historian David Garrow notes that today is the 50th anniversary of “the most politically charged speech” of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.  of his life at Riverside Church in Upper Manhattan. Writes Garrow:

“It was a blistering attack on the government’s conduct of the Vietnam War that, among other things, compared American tactics to those of the Nazis during World War II.”


Today’s good news: There will be beer. Late last week, the AJC told you that Atlanta’s popular SweetWater Brewing Co., which sits near the site of the I-85 collapse, had been paralyzed.

Atlanta Business Chronicle reported Monday that SweetWater, which distributes 50,000 cases of beer per week, had solved its problem and had resumed shipping from its location on Ottley Drive.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is a senior reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's enterprise team, where she covers women in society, LGBTQ issues, the urban-rural...