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Friday, November 16, 2012 - 11:58am

Deal Nixes Healthcare Exchange

Governor Nathan Deal says he doesn’t need a deadline extension to tell the Obama Administration Georgia will not create a healthcare exchange.
He made the announcement Friday after the government said states could take more time to decide.

The exchanges will serve as marketplaces where consumers can buy insurance. They’re part of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

Georgia held off on creating the exchange and now that the Governor says it won’t the federal government will have to set one up for Georgians.

Brian Robinson is Gov. Deal’s spokesman. He says the Obama Administration hasn’t provided enough information or flexibility.

“We don’t how much it would cost the state to set up," he said in an interview. "We don’t know if the state would be left on the hook for the cost in the long run. There are just too many unknowns. If it’s going to be a federal exchange anyway, let them pay for it and set it up.”

Robinson said that Gov. Deal understands that "Obamacare is the law of the land" now that the president won re-election. But he says that doesn't change the fact that Georgia can't afford to set up the exchange or the other costs associated with the healthcare plan.

Medical professionals and healthcare advocates worry the exchange won’t be ready in time for consumers to start buying policies in a year, as required under the law.

Dr. Wayne Hoffman is on the board of the Georgia Association of Family Physicians. He says the Interactive Web site will take to time to create.

“There is a lot of work and coordination, and compiling all of that information and making sure it works and handling the volume of inquiries that will come in," he said. "These are all things they have to address.”

Open enrollment for consumers who want to buy policies will begin in the fall of next year.

Some healthcare experts say Georgia was too far behind to begin building the exchange from scratch.

Cindy Zeldin heads the nonprofit Georgians For A Healthy Future. She says the state also has to start educating Georgians about how the exchange will work.

“There’s a lot of confusion right now about, one, what an exchange even is; two, if the state doesn’t do it, will we have one at all? And the answer is ‘Yes,’" she said. "And then three, how in the world do I use it and how will it help me get better health insurance.”

Georgia officials held off setting the exchange up, pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the law and later the presidential election.

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