Health care freedom bill gains steam
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Georgia House Bill 707, now known as the “Georgia Healthcare Freedom Act,” has narrowly received the blessing of the House Judiciary Committee and could be debated on the House floor Monday.
State Rep. David Stover, R-Palmetto, is one of the primary sponsors of the bill, which was originally called the “Georgia Healthcare Freedom and ACA (Affordable Care Act) Noncompliance Act.”
Monday is the 30th legislative day of the 40-day Georgia General Assembly session. Known as Crossover Day, it’s the day that bills must pass either the House or Senate in order to have a reasonable chance of becoming law in the current session. The deadline isn’t absolute, however.
A short House calendar has already been set for Monday, and HB 707 is not on it. However, many more bills are expected to be added when the House Rules Committee meets early Monday.
Stover could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The bill has gone through some changes during the “vetting process,” and doesn’t contain as many prohibitions on state and local government employees doing anything that could “assist in implementing Obamacare” as the earlier version.
A new addition to the bill deals with the state insurance commissioner. The bill includes that the insurance commissioner is “prohibited from enforcing or investigating any health-care insurance related provision of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.”
According to a story in the Athens Banner-Herald, the bill would prohibit the insurance office, which typically helps Georgians who have problems with insurance providers, from assisting people who have specific problems related to the provisions of the ACA. As passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, HB 707 prohibits any state or local department, agency, etc., from using monies, human resources or assets to “advocate or influence the citizens of this state in support of the voluntary expansion” of Medicaid eligibility.
It also prevents any state or local agency from doing anything to create, administer or otherwise operate an insurance exchange, or to apply for, accept, or expend federal monies related to exchanges.
Lastly, no government agency, including the University System of Georgia, can create or operate a “navigator” program.