clear
Friday July 31st, 2015 3:27AM

Sen. Fort critical of Deal over health exchange issue

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
ATLANTA (AP) -- 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 and a Democratic state Senator is accusing Deal of playing politics with the issue.

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 REACTS

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.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Fiscal cliff may determine gas prices at start of 2013
Retail gas prices climb as 2012 comes to end. While gas prices are likely to rise into next year, whether or not a deal is made to avoid the fiscal cliff will determine if prices continue on an upward trend.
6:18AM ( 2 years ago )
Business News
Couch names administrative team
Ahead of his scheduled swearing in Friday, Hall County Sheriff-elect Gerald Couch named his top administrative team Monday.
6:28PM ( 2 years ago )
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Hall Co. officials launch health-based initiative for employees
Hall County officials believe healthy county employees will be of greater service to the county. With that in mind, they have created a health-based fitness initiative to provide free fitness training for county workers.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Maine same-sex couples marry in first hours of law
After waiting years and seeing marriage rights nearly awarded and then retracted, gay couples in Maine's largest city didn't have to wait a moment longer than necessary to wed, with licenses issued at the stroke of midnight Friday as a new state law went into effect.
8:02AM ( 2 years ago )
Stocks tumble as 'fiscal cliff' deadline nears
Stocks fell for a fifth day on concern that Washington lawmakers will fail to reach a budget deal before a self-imposed year-end deadline.
5:40PM ( 2 years ago )
Fresh fighting in C. African Republic; US leaves
Renewed fighting between government forces and rebels seeking to overthrow the president broke out Friday in Central African Republic's third largest city, a military official said, hours after the U.S. ambassador and his team were evacuated from the capital.
3:18PM ( 2 years ago )
Politics
3.3 million dry erase boards recalled after due to cut risk
NEW YORK (AP) — Acco Brands Corp. is recalling about 3.3 million wall-mounted dry erase boards after customers said they cut their hands, fingers and feet while removing the board from a wall.The U.S....
12:33PM ( 14 hours ago )
NGMC honors teen volunteers
The Medical Center Auxiliary honored more than 100 teen volunteers at an appreciation dinner this week at the Brenau Downtown Center.
By AccessWDUN staff
12:26PM ( 15 hours ago )
Applications for US jobless aid rise to still-low 267,000
WASHINGTON (AP) — More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, though the increase was from a very low level and the figures still point to a healthy job market.Applications for jobless ai...
8:48AM ( 18 hours ago )
Coca-Cola Enterprises beats 2Q Wall Street expectations
Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (CCE) on Thursday reported second-quarter net income of $176 million.
8:24AM ( 19 hours ago )
Asian stocks mixed after Fed leaves rates unchanged
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese stocks held steady Thursday following this week's turbulence while other Asian markets were mixed after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at a record low.KE...
12:52AM ( 1 day ago )