U.S. Senate candidate Andy Ogles blasted the “deep state” health care bureaucracy for revoking the Medicare privileges of Dr. Bryan Merrick, a family doctor with a practice that serves rural McKenzie, Tennessee and the surrounding communities, over a $670 billing error on Friday.
“Establishment Republicans have failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, despite a constant stream of promises to do so. But while they lack the will to fix our healthcare system they are willing to unleash the full force of the U.S. government to shut down the medical practice of a country doctor who is actually delivering lifesaving care to the elderly in his community,” the conservative Republican U.S. Senate candidate said.
“If they can shut down Dr. Merrick over $670 in clerical billing errors over nearly two years, then every bureaucrat at Health and Human Services and the Veterans Administration should be in jail for the epidemic of waste, fraud and abuse they have overseen and enabled for the last few decades.”
Ogles, the former head of the Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity, was the first candidate to announce for the Republican nomination for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN).
Ogles announced on September 14, twelve days before the surprise announcement on September 26 by Senator Corker that he would not seek re-election to a third term in 2018.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) became the second candidate in the Tennessee U.S. Senate Republican primary when she announced on October 5. With that announcement, Blackburn quickly became the front runner for both the Republican nomination and the general election, receiving endorsements in short order from the Club for Growth and Citizens United.
One other potential candidate for the Republican nomination, former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN-08), launched a listening tour earlier this week in Mountain City and Johnson City to determine whether or not he will enter the race. Though first elected to Congress in 2010 as a Tea Party candidate, Fincher is considered the establishment candidate in the race due to his subsequent voting record and support for the crony capitalist Export-Import Bank, an agency whose elimination has long been advocated by free market, limited government conservatives.
Fincher is said to have the financial backing of establishment donors aligned with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Gov. Haslam, and Corker.
Though Blackburn first earned her conservative credentials by successfully leading the opposition to Republican Gov. Don Sundquist’s proposal to impose a state income tax on Tennesseans in 2000, she has recently come under criticism from conservative activists in the Middle Tennessee Congressional District she represents for not opposing the House Republican leadership of former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and current Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
As the local head of Americans for Prosperity, Ogles gained credibility with conservative activists for successfully leading the charge to eliminate the Hall Income Tax. In the most recent session of the Tennessee General Assembly, Ogles and Americans for Prosperity opposed Gov. Haslam’s proposal to increase the state’s gas and diesel tax. That opposition was not successful, as Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act became law in May and went into effect on July 1.