Bow to Obamacare or Exert State Sovereignty
Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, March 1, 2013 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Good morning, Jim. Obamacare passed Congress March 23, 2010, almost exactly three years ago. Then, in a 5-4 vote last summer, the Supreme Court called Obamacare a tax and said it was okay to force folks to buy government health insurance or pay hefty fines if they don’t. Since that decision, some states have yielded to Obamacare and others oppose it, as infringing on state sovereignty.
Although it’s called the “Affordable Care Act,” a Cornell University economist calls Obamacare a “no-man’s land,” where millions of families can’t afford employer-sponsored family coverage and won’t qualify for government subsidies.
Last year, several Georgia legislators tried to protect us from Obamacare by introducing S.R. 889 to exercise our state’s constitutional right to reject federal encroachment into State affairs. That bill died in committee and here we are, between a rock and a hard place.Actually, it’s hard to know where Georgia stands on Obamacare. On the one hand, our state committed to several early parts of Obamacare and took a $100 million grant in 2010 as one of the first requirements. But, as recently as last November 16th, Governor Deal wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius, telling her that Georgia would NOT pursue a state-based health insurance exchange, would continue deciding who’s eligible for Medicaid and would maintain separate small group and individual insurance markets as “small group employers” of up to 50 employees.
I trust Governor Deal will stand his ground. But I’m puzzled by Representative Richard Smith’s H.B. 198, introduced February 5th and moving fast. It passed its assigned committee two days later and went to the Rules Committee, where it could be put on the House floor for a vote at any time. I’m puzzled, since it authorizes the Insurance Commissioner to start licensing “navigators” to encourage businesses and individuals to buy health insurance policies through an Obamacare health exchange. Navigators would be paid by the health exchange, which Governor Deal said he won’t pursue.
So, why pass a bill to license “navigators,” if Georgia is rejecting Obamacare? Call Senator Golden at 404 656-7580* and ask him to keep H.B. 198 in his Insurance and Labor Committee. It seems to contradict the governor’s letter to Secretary Sebelius. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.