State Senate committee endorses health care legislation

ATLANTA – The state Senate Insurance and Labor Committee endorsed legislation allowing Georgians to purchase “approved out-of-state healthcare insurance plans.”

Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, contends the bill (SB 407), if approved, would increase competition and help reduce health care costs. The bill, he says, would therefore increase access to coverage for many residents who are uninsured or underinsured.

“(This bill) allows the market to dictate the price and ultimately puts the power in the people’s hands, providing a wide array of health insurance choices for Georgians and their families,” Hill said in a news release. “Increasing Georgia’s health insurance options through market competition is a proven method to reduce premiums, expand access to healthcare, and increase the quality of healthcare in our state.”

Under Hill’s proposal, the state’s insurance commissioner would identify five or more states that have health insurance laws that are “substantially consistent with Georgia law,” according to a news release from Hill. The law, if approved, would allow companies to offer policies in Georgia that they have in other states, but only if they are already authorized to sell insurance in Georgia.

As part of the bill, the insurance commissioner would establish a group of officials from “like-minded states.” The group would be tasked with setting so-called “rules of reciprocity” for approving health insurance policies available to residents in the participating states.

The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee.

Last year, Hill proposed an amendment to the state constitution to “protect individuals’ right to make their own health care choices.” That legislation is pending.

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