Georgia will not set up health care exchange, Gov. Deal says

ATLANTA — Georgia will not set up its own health care exchange under Obamacare, Gov. Nathan Deal said today, insisting the state will not spend “our tax dollars on an exchange that is state-based in name only.”

“I remain committed to common sense health care solutions that empower consumers to take responsibility for their own health, motivate the private sector and drive efficiencies for consumers, employers and governments alike,” Deal, a Republican, said in a statement. “I continue to hope that we might finally engage in a serious conversation about restoring meaningful flexibility to states around health care programs.”

Friday was the deadline for states to inform the feds whether they planned to establish an exchange. At least 15 states said they would forego establishing an exchange, according to The Associated Press, and the federal government will operate exchanges for states that decline to establish their own.

In declining, Deal said the feds must loosen regulations restricting states’ options.

“We have no interest in spending our tax dollars on an exchange that is state-based in name only,” Deal said. “I would support a free market-based approach that could serve as a useful tool for Georgia’s small businesses, but federal guidelines forbid that. Instead, restrictions on what the exchanges can and can’t offer render meaningless the suggestion that Georgia could tailor an exchange that best fits the unique needs of its population.

“I have joined numerous other governors seeking guidance from the federal government on establishing exchanges. We’ve yet to receive serious answers to our questions. I will not commit Georgia taxpayers to a project with so many unknowns.”

The announcement is hardly a surprise as Deal and many in Georgia’s state legislature are vocal critics of Obamacare.

After Florida filed a federal lawsuit over Obamacare, Georgia quickly joined suit. While the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently upheld Obamacare, the nation’s highest court said the exchanges were optional.

State lawmakers in Georgia even passed legislation prohibiting mandatory participation in any healthcare requirements.

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