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Georgia's Governor Launches Advisory Committee on Health Exchange

By Jane Norman, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

Saying that Georgia has to prepare for the full implementation of the health care law, Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order establishing an advisory committee to study whether the state should set up a health insurance exchange.

Georgia is a party to the 26-state lawsuit filed against the overhaul law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152). Deal, a Republican and former House member, has been under pressure from the tea party not to implement any part of the law even though the state has accepted a federal grant for exchange planning.

Earlier this year, Deal and Republicans shelved an exchange planning bill pending in the legislature.

Deal's order creates the Georgia Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee, which will include a member of the tea party as well as state legislators, business leaders, health insurance industry representatives and state officials. The committee is directed to "focus on free market principles" in its recommendations, which are due in preliminary form by Sept. 15.

"I want Georgia to have time to thoroughly study this issue as we wait for the judicial process to play out," said Deal in a statement issued through his office.

But he indicated that if the law is found constitutional, he favors an exchange run by the state. Under the law, the federal government will step in and establish exchanges in states that don't do so.

"I want to engage Georgians about how we can expand access to health care insurance while lowering the burdensome costs on our state's families," Deal said. "Georgians don't want more federal 'solutions,' and the best way to fight back right now is to manufacture a Georgia solution."

He added, "It is my hope that this committee will construct the appropriate avenues for our state to implement our own exchange, based on delivering free-market solutions for increasing the access and affordability of health insurance."

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