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Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 1:09pm

Health Exchange on Hold in Georgia

Updated: 3 years ago.
Gov. Nathan Deal says the state and federal governments cannot afford Pres. Obama's healthcare reform law. (photo courtesy of onpolitics)

State lawmakers recently tabled legislation that would have created a federally-mandated state health care exchange. That leaves Georgia with some unused cash.

Georgia received a $1 million grant from the federal government to create a state healthcare exchange.

Forming the exchange is mandatory for all states under Pres. Obama’s healthcare reform law.

Gov. Nathan Deal held a press conference to mark the one-year anniversary of the bill’s passage. And he said the money’s in the bank.

"We still have a year or so in which to put the exchange in place and that money will be used for that purpose," he said. "We have not applied for additional funding for the implementation, which was available. We decided not to apply some months ago.”

Deal appeared with other Republicans, who as a block have opposed the bill. He said the law will cost Georgia $2.5 billion over ten years.

Georgia and other states are challenging the constitutionality of the law in federal court. The case is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

When it comes to what voters think, Bill Hervey, who teaches health care law at Mercer University, says Georgians are divided.

“Maybe a third of people want it repealed, another third love it," he said. "Yet the people in the middle who make up the difference....they just kind of want something that works.”

The nation has time to debate. The majority of the law takes effect in 2014.

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