Georgia House bill promises antidote to Obamacare affliction

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The law – like a lady – should be courted, not taken by storm.

Legislative measures to ameliorate or to avoid compounding the financial or health care afflictions that Obamacare has visited on Georgia are no exception.

Jobs are vanishing. Health insurance premiums are climbing. Health care choices are shrinking. The error-plagued electronic enrollment process is infuriating. And federal and state government health care expenditures are soaring.

BUT THE OBAMACARE calamity cannot be cured with a legislative mega-dose in the current political environment. Indeed, a legislative overdose could kill the baby in the cradle.

That explains the scaled-back scope of my legislative initiative (House Bill 707) in the Georgia General Assembly to prevent the federal government from commandeering the resources of state or local government to promote, enforce or administer the federal health insurance provisions of Obamacare.

My bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 24. Its prohibitions are fourfold:

• No state or local officer or employee on government time or with government resources would be permitted to advocate for the expansion of Medicaid. That program already places a crippling burden on the state budget, and further expansion would be fiscally prohibitive.

THIS PRESCRIPTION against Obamacare advocacy with government resources complements a companion bill (House Bill 990) sponsored by Rep. Jan Jones. Her bill would prohibit expanding
eligibility requirements for Medicaid by increasing the qualifying income threshold without approval by an act of the General Assembly.

At present, Medicaid eligibility can be loosened by a decision of the governor alone despite the staggering ripple effects on the legislative budget process. My bill makes clear, however, that its prohibition does not limit the free speech rights of state or local officers or employees to advocate for Medicaid expansion on their own time and with their own private resources.

• H.B. 707 would further prohibit the state from establishing or operating a health insurance exchange website to administer or implement Obamacare. This opt-out clearly is permitted by the terms of Obamacare. The federal government has been and will continue to be required to use its own money and resources to establish a federal health insurance exchange mechanism, which is provoking further popular aversion to Obamacare.

• Additionally, my bill would prohibit any department or agency of the state or political subdivision from using any funds – federal, state or local – to operate so-called “navigator” programs to encourage or assist people to enroll in Obamacare.

At present, the Board of Regents and the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service are spending millions on navigator programs to accelerate the Obamacare train that is destined to crash. Georgia has no business participating in such a known folly.

• Finally, H.B. 707 would prohibit Georgia’s insurance commissioner from investigating, enforcing or adjudicating health insurance claims arising under the health insurance prescriptions of Obamacare. For example, there is a rule that generally prohibits 20 percent or more of insurance premium revenue to be devoted to administrative overhead.

THE COMMISSIONER would retain his authority unimpaired to investigate and to enforce insurance claims arising under state law. This division of federal and state authority is the norm in cases of concurrent jurisdiction. Federal antitrust complaints, for instance, are investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission, whereas state antitrust complaints are investigated by the attorney general of Georgia.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that the Constitution’s protection of state sovereignty precludes the federal government from commandeering the machinery of state government to enforce a federal mandate.

My bill is less ambitious than I would have preferred. I would have saved the state and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars in Obamacare fees. These are fees levied against health insurance policies written for all state or local employees by authorizing payments only for new employees hired after the beginning of the next fiscal year.

I BELIEVE GEORGIA would be constitutionally entitled to permit the health insurance fees to be assessed prospectively but not retrospectively based on the model that has been employed in applying federal Social Security taxes on state or local employees prospectively only. But that is for another day.

Democrats took great risks in passing Obamacare. It escaped a constitutional death by a single vote in the U.S. Supreme Court. We Republicans can be no less bold in fighting back. We cannot permit risk aversion to degenerate into political paralysis and defeat.

(The writer, R-Woodbine, represents District 180 in the Georgia House of Representatives.)

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deestafford 03/02/14 - 09:12 am
I strongly support any state-level action that...

I strongly support any state-level action that asserts Tenth Amendment rights of the states as enumerated in the Constitution. It's time for the states to stand up and have the guts to say "No" to the rampaging federal government.

I wonder what's going on with the Board of Regents. If one didn't know better one would think they are here on leave from from the same position in New York.

DanK 03/02/14 - 10:09 am
The Pro-Life Party

The Pro-Life Party sentences more and more Georgians to untreated illness and death by obstructing access to federally funded health insurance. And for what? Is it just plain hatred of disabled and unemployed veterans, the elderly, the sick, the poor? Or is it to recompense the campaign contributions of Georgia health industry?

Darby 03/02/14 - 12:33 pm
"Legislative measures to ameliorate

or to avoid compounding the financial or health care afflictions that Obamacare has visited on Georgia are no exception."

No exception to what?

Did this guy even proof read what he wrote?

I appreciate what he's trying to do, but his article is ostentatious puffery. I'd suggest he heed the advice of someone who tells us almost daily to "Keep it pithy."

dahreese 03/02/14 - 03:10 pm
The writer of this guest

The writer of this guest editorial can't even stay on his own topic, yet he wants support?

Obamacare is not a matter of states rights.

It is a matter of health care for all Americans.

You don't have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.

willie7 03/02/14 - 04:27 pm
And this guy is who we send

And this guy is who we send to the Georgia State Assembly.
I wonder what is his occupation and what type of health insurance he has.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/02/14 - 11:43 pm
Ostentatious Puffery

That’s about right. And many people call my comments errant pedantry.

Herenow2say 03/03/14 - 12:43 am
Same Drivel

Republicans constantly work to drive the only cure for a disease off the market with no ideas of other treatments. Obamacare, for all of it's many flaws, is still a better idea than anything the GOP has come up with since .....Oh, since they came up with federal mandates to states to provide health care.

soitgoes 03/03/14 - 12:51 am
Is it really worth the cost?

Seems OBAMAcare is causing prices to escalate.

Darby 03/03/14 - 01:49 am
"Same drivel"

Someone is caught up in his Democrat dogma.

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