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Governor: No Georgia insurance exchange

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

ATLANTA — Georgia will not create the health insurance exchanges required under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and will leave that task to federal authorities, Gov. Nathan Deal said Friday.

Deal, a Republican, outlined his stance in a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in which he criticized the Democratic health care plan for what he called its “one-size-fits-all approach” and the financial burdens it places on state governments. The exchanges will allow households and small businesses to buy a private health plan, and many will get subsidies from the government to pay their premiums.

“We believe that a well designed, private free-market approach to small business exchanges could be beneficial to small businesses but the regulations promulgated by your administration take those options away,” Deal wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of Obama’s health care overhaul as constitutional, Deal has strongly suggested that Georgia would not move to implement portions of it. He delayed taking any action on the plan until after the presidential election in the hope that Republican candidate Mitt Romney would win. Georgia Republicans wanted Romney to repeal or eliminate all or part of the law had he been elected.

The federal government will operate the exchanges for states that decline to set them up, so it’s not clear that people buying insurance will see a notable difference at the end of the day. But Deal’s resistance shows the philosophical and political wrangling that surrounds implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Deal has strongly signaled that he would not move to expand eligibility for Georgia’s Medicaid program, a government health insurance plan for low-income Americans, primarily children. It is jointly funded by the state and federal government. Obama’s health care plan initially required that states expand Medicaid to cover anyone in homes earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That expansion would add about 620,000 people to Georgia’s current enrollment of 1.5 million.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that any expansion has to be optional.

“The State of Georgia takes seriously its legal authority over the state’s Medicaid program,” Deal said in his letter. “We will continue to determine eligibility for all individuals seeking Medicaid in our state.”

Other Republicans quickly backed Deal. Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said in a statement that he hopes federal officials will give Georgia more flexibility.

“However, rather than allowing Georgia to embrace a more competitive private market approach, a Georgia exchange would be subject to the federal law, the mountains of regulations that have been promulgated since its passage, and the regulations that, to this date, have still not been finalized,” he said.

Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, has urged Deal to move forward with implementing the law. He said that Republicans complain about the federal government usurping the power of state government, but then refuse to let their states set up a health insurance exchange that can incorporate local ideas or conditions.

“I bet this crowd, when the feds set up the health care exchanges, are going to howl about that,” Fort said.

Fort also said that putting uninsured people in the Medicaid program would decrease the costs that insured patients pay to cover the bills of those who need medical care but lack insurance to pay for it.

“It’s unfortunate that the governor’s chosen to put politics over the need of Georgians,” Fort said.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 5 months ago

The refusal of Gov. Deal & the other GOP governors to establish state healthcare exchanges is an abdication of states' rights/responsibilities and improves the chance of a single payor provider (read socialized medicine). Dumb just dumb.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

Agree with you here, FT........playing right in to Obama's original intention to create a "single payer" system,,that being the Guvvament. It's working great for the Post Office, right?

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Russ 1 year, 4 months ago

Obamacare was going to drive us to single payer anyway. By design.

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spookj6 1 year, 4 months ago

Scratch and claw all you want it's eventually going to happen.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 4 months ago

So is the destruction of this country due to unsustainable debt. $26 Trillion in debt.........HERE WE COME!

How's that single payer mail system working out, called the USPS??

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chinaberry25 1 year, 4 months ago

It is suppose to double the price of insurance and you pay a penalty if you are not covered. Sounds like a good time to have a side baby and get on welfare.

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ustaknow 1 year, 4 months ago

Why our next candidate needs to be a Libertarian. They are fiscally conservative and socially liberal For decades the D's and the R's have ran up debt due to wars and welfare every single election season they try to pit us against each other.

LC2016 ( Libertarian Candidate 2016 )

p.s. We also need to abolish income tax and put in a national sales tax. Incidentally the math proves that for low income workers a national sales tax that replaces income tax will leave more money in their pocket. THE MATH: $400.00 gross pay ( 10 dollars hr x's 40 ) taxed at 10% under Bush and 15% if bush tax cuts expire will leave a low income worker 360 take home or 340.00 take home if BTC expires well then that worker buys 100 groceries - now has 260 left over but under national sales tax of 20% ; the worker now takes home 400 and spends 100 he or she now has 280 left over after groceries assuming the 100 was taxed at 20% or 300 take home if we keep Bush tax cuts

It is just mathematically better to have a national sales tax to replace income tax. A national sales tax also captures underground economy that currently pays no tax such as the drug dealer or the immigrant who is here illegally. please help me spread this message- the math is correct and working class would get relief while the others would contribute a little something

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USTPC 1 year, 4 months ago

You are assuming that the remaining $280 will not be spent and thus not taxed which is not going to happen. They are either going to buy gas, clothes, eat out, electricity, repairs on vehicle, etc. etc. which will all be taxed at the 20% so in reality the 400 take home nets $320 worth of usable goods. Whether you tax the money as income tax or you tax it as sales tax it is still taxed.

On top of that, who does a flat 20% sales tax hurt the most...the guy making less than $20k or the guy maying 20 million?

The only way a national sales tax of any kind makes sense is if you exempt basic necessities from the tax....food, rent, electricity, water, etc. Then you might make an argument that the person making $400 a week actually gains some spending money.

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stc1993 1 year, 4 months ago

If they want national health care let's just be like most of Europe a 50% income tax on all the people.

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