Last January, the Georgia General Assembly decided it will not implement any bill that will set up a health insurance exchange in their state.
This announced decision surprised a lot of Georgians. Last December, an advisory committee appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal, recommended that an online health insurance exchange should be created for individuals and small businesses.
Why Did Georgia Change Its Mind?
According to Deal’s spokesman, Brian Robinson, the Governor wanted to wait for the decision of the Supreme Court about the health care reform law whether it will be overturned or not. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of President Obama mandates that by 2014 every state in America should have their own health insurance exchange running. This exchange will be a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be given the chance to shop for affordable Georgia health insurance plans. If the state fails to do as required, the federal government will run it for them.
Robinson added that the Governor does not want to move forward with this matter until the court has ruled on the health care reform law. However, Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta), a member of the exchange panel, does not see the point of having to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision.
Gardner is the main sponsor of House Bill 801. This legislation would establish a mechanism for an online health exchange in Georgia where small businesses and individuals without health coverage and looking for affordable Georgia health insurance policies can participate. She further added that the Tea Party was the “force” that killed the health exchange bill favored by Gov. Deal last year.
According to the report of the advisory committee last year, Georgia needs to establish an online health insurance exchange because “Georgia’s small businesses expressed a strong interest in a free-market-driven insurance marketplace that would facilitate employer defined contribution arrangements and employee choice. ”
Georgia Is Among The 26 States Expecting The Health Care Reform Law To Be Overturned
Georgia and Arizona are among the 26 states hoping that the Supreme Court will repeal all or parts of the health care reform law. Several advocates agree with the “go-slow approach” carried out by Gov. Deal. They said that the fate of the Affordable Care Act is very uncertain. They don’t want to waste their time and effort in creating their exchanges if the federal law is overturned.
In a recent report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, only 14 states including the District of Columbia have made progress creating their own state-based health exchange.
Some Republicans Agree With The Concept Of Having A Health Insurance Exchange For Georgia
Ralph Hudgens, a prominent Republican and state Insurance Commissioner, has expressed his support regarding the enactment of an online health care marketplace for Georgia. He said that this could act as a ”superagent” for uninsured Georgians seeking an individual health care plan.