ATLANTA (March 19, 2014) – With some last minute political maneuvering in the twilight of the legislative session, a bill that would begin the process of nullifying Obamacare in Georgia gained final approval in both the House and the Senate Tuesday night, and now moves on to the governor’s desk.
The Georgia Senate passed an amended version of HB707 by tacking it onto another insurance bill (HB943). The measure passed 37-17, moments after the amended version cleared the House 106-48.
Introduced by Rep. Jason Spencer as HB707, the legislation pushes back against the ACA in four ways and would create serious impediments to the implementation of Obamacare in Georgia. Spencer worked tirelessly through the session to get the bill through the legislative process.
“Many barriers were broken down inside the capitol to convince others that it is possible to stand up to the federal government in a constitutional and pragmatic way,” Spencer said. “While, we did not achieve all that we wanted, we still won the day. We made the comeback of the legislative session.The path for future pro-10th Amendment initiatives has been plowed.”
Specifically, the legislation:
1. Prohibits any state agencies, departments or political subdivisions from using resources or spending funds to advocate for the expansion of Medicaid. This provision works hand-in-hand with HB990 to make it more difficult to expand Medicaid. HB990 would require legislative approval for expansion of the program, barring the governor from doing it by executive order.
2. Prohibits the state of Georgia from running an insurance exchange.
3. Refuses and federal grant money for the purpose of creating or running a state insurance exchange.
4. Ends the University of Georgia Health Navigator Program. It allows the school to complete the functions under the current grant but would prohibit it from getting a new one.
Each of these provisions creates impediments to the implementation and execution of Obamacare in Georgia. We’ve seen the difficulties created by the number of states simply refusing to set up exchanges. The ACA was predicated on state cooperation. By refusing to help, passage of the bill puts the federal government in an almost impossible position. It never intended to run the healthcare system alone, and ultimately, it can’t do it without state help. Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed recently, pointing out that if a number of states were to refuse to participate with the ACA in a wholesale fashion, that multi-state action would “gut Obamacare.”
A fifth provision that would have prohibited the Commissioner of Insurance from investigating or enforcing any alleged violation of federal health insurance requirements mandated by Obamacare was amended out of the final bill. Spencer has already committed to pursuing that issue in the next legislative session.
Tenth Amendment Center national communications director called passage of the bill a huge victory and predicted it would pave the way for future action, not only in Georgia, but across the country.
“Rep. Spencer poured his heart and soul into getting this bill passed. He may not realize it, but it paves the way for action in other states. Now they see that yes, states can take a stand against the implementation of Obamacare. I’m certain other states will follow the lead,” he said. “And the best news is, Jason realizes the fight isn’t over. He has already committed to coming back next session and working toward the next step. This is a big win. A bigger win than most people realize.”
The bill appeared dead after several Republicans joined Democrats to table the HB707 in the Senate Rules Committee. According to the Brookhaven Post, “Republican Senator Cecil Staton made a motion to table the bill, it was seconded by Democrat Senator Steve Henson. State Senator, Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) also voted along with other Republicans in favor of tabling HB 707.”
Last minute efforts by Spencer and grassroots supporters of the measure resurrected it.
“Without the backing of the people, we could have not won this epic victory under the Gold Dome,” Spencer said.
The bill still needs Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature to become law.