Written by Michael Maharrey
Things just got a lot harder for federal health mandates in Georgia.
Today, a law that bans the state from participating in significant portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into full effect.
This represents the first step in the nullification of the federal act in Georgia. It certainly doesn’t end the unconstitutional healthcare program in the Peach State, but it creates impediments to further implementation and lays the groundwork for future action.
Now, Georgians need to begin gearing up take it to the next level.
Introduced by Rep. Jason Spencer, the freshly minted law pushes back against the ACA in four ways and will create serious impediments to the implementation of ACA 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 the ACA 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.”
The state of Georgia stands at an important crossroads. The new law represents a victory for those seeking to stop the federal healthcare program. But adopting the attitude that “Well, we’ve gotten a law past, we don’t have to do anything else,” will stop momentum dead in its tracks, and the ACA will ultimately take root in Georgia. Work must begin now to take the next step, and win the next victory.
A fifth provision was amended out of Spencer’s bill. It would have prohibited the Georgia insurance commissioner from taking any action on federally mandated insurance requirements. For instance, if a Georgian contacted the Department of Insurance to complain about a company refusing to cover a 25-year-old dependent, as required by federal mandate, the commissioner would simply refer that individual to the federal government for resolution of the problem. Of course, the federal government doesn’t have any agency to enforce its insurance mandates. It depends on the states. This provision, based on the well-established anti-commandeering doctrine, would create a more serious roadblock to the execution of the ACA in the state than the provisions that went into effect today.
Spencer has committed to introducing a bill including this provision during the next legislative session. But the road won’t prove smooth. Activists and concerned citizens will have to gear up once again to push the legislation through in 2015.
Congress will never repeal the Act. The federal courts will never strike it down. But states have the power within their reach to nullify the federal meddling and repeal it for all practical purposes. But it won’t happen in a single year with a single bill. New efforts must build on each success. Georgia must consolidate the ground it took last year and move on to the next step. And other states need to follow the Peach State’s lead.
Over the summer, the Tenth Amendment Center plans to add additional model legislation to its Obamacare nullification campaign and improve its legislative strategy. As fall rolls around, we will need activists across the country to take up the cause and work within their own states. Together, we can end this unconstitutional act.
For more information on how to stop Obamacare through state action, click HERE.