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Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 1:02pm

Healthcare Exchange Moves Forward

The state is moving forward to satisfy part of the national healthcare reform act. A panel voted to begin creating an online exchange Tuesday.

The exchange is an online resource that would help people without health insurance get a good deal on coverage.

If most people were required to buy health insurance as per the healthcare reform law, it would help new consumers flooding the market place.

But last week a federal appeals court struck down that part of the law.

Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner Republican Ralph Hudgens says even without the individual mandate, the exchange is a good idea.

"We’ve got to have healthcare reform and I think the exchange is a step in the right direction," says Hudgens. "I don’t think it’s holding hands with President Obama."

Hudgens says the exchange would also help small businesses shop for coverage for employees.

Cindy Zeldin with Georgians for a Healthy Future agrees the exchange is needed. She says because of the federal tax credits offered on the site, the uninsured would still be motivated to use it even if they’re not required by law to have coverage.

"And when you go to the exchange and find you can’t be denied because you have a pre-existing condition and you are eligible for a pretty large tax credit," says Zeldin, "you might go ahead and make that decision to purchase health insurance regardless of the individual mandate."

Zeldin and Hudgens sit on the panel that voted to make recommendations to lawmakers on how to design a state exchange.

The state must create its own exchange or have the federal government create one for it by 2014.

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