What’s next for health care in Georgia?
By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
The presidential campaign is (finally) over. President Obama will serve a second and final term, and the Senate remains in the hands of the Democrats. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), now widely known as Obamacare, will remain in place.
ACA provisions will be implemented as planned. The next major provision requires every state’s governor to either submit an outline for a state-run insurance exchange or notify federal authorities that they will leave it to the federal government. The deadline for notification is this Friday, November 16.
Insurance exchanges will begin operating in 2014. They are primarily intended for individuals buying insurance on their own and for small business owners with fewer than 100 employees. It is hoped that the online exchanges will help lower health care costs by increasing competition, allowing families to comparison shop and select the plan that best suits their needs. If states do not create their own exchanges, the federal government will create and manage an exchange for them.
Many Republican governors, including Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, pinned their hopes on a Romney presidency and the repeal of the ACA. Governor Deal has indicated that Georgia will not create an exchange. The electorate in Missouri voted to bar their governor from creating an exchange, while simultaneously re-electing Governor Jay Nixon back into office. Governor Nixon, a Democrat, had hoped to create a state-run exchange, saying, “…a federally facilitated exchange is not the ideal approach. Regulating the insurance market is a power best left in the hands of the states.”
In June 2011, Governor Deal signed an executive order creating the Georgia Health Insurance Exchange Advisory. The 25-person committee included state representatives, members of the insurance and health care industry, as well as the late President and CEO of Piedmont Healthcare, Tim Stack, and Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens. In December 2011, the committee recommended that the state move forward towards the creation of an exchange for small businesses. The recommendation came before the Supreme Court decision upholding the majority of the ACA.
Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services released a letter on Friday and extended two very important deadlines. November 16 remains the deadline for states to declare their intention to run their own exchange, but they will have until December 14, 2012 to submit their plan for the exchange. States will have until February 15, 2013 to declare their intention and plans to implement a State Partnership Exchange (a state and federal partnership).
Governors nationwide will decide what’s best for their states in the coming weeks and months. The uncertainty that loomed before the Supreme Court decision and the presidential election is gone, but don’t think there won’t be plenty of political wrangling in the coming months. There are plenty of details to refine and bargain over. What we can be certain of is an exchange in Georgia; the form it will take is yet to be determined.