Sen. Renee Unterman Discusses Affordable Care Act with Kathleen Sebelius

ATLANTA (December 6, 2012) – Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) met with Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday to discuss the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Georgia.“The establishment of government-run health care is new territory for the states and requires a strong, interconnected relationship with our friends in Washington,” said Sen. Unterman. “I am very pleased that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is open to receiving feedback as we begin implementing key provisions within the Affordable Care Act. Together, we can provide affordable, quality health care for the people of Georgia.”

As Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee in Georgia, Sen. Unterman is one of the state’s leading advocates of strengthening Georgia’s health care industry and has worked with her colleagues in the legislature to pass patient-centered health care policy.

During Sen. Unterman’s meeting at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the following health care initiatives were addressed:

  • The individual mandate and tailoring the exchanges to meet the needs of the states
  • Goals for each state to run their own exchanges
  • Analyzing templates from existing state-run exchanges so new states don’t have to re-invent new systems
  • Medicaid Expansion and state poverty levels
  • Waivers involved in Medicaid expansion
  • Dual eligible models
  • Deciding Georgia’s benchmark plan for essential health benefits
  • State health care innovation models in other states, including Arkansas, Massachusetts and Oregon
  • Methodology for transition

One of the central provisions of the Affordable Care Act is the requirement for health insurance exchanges to be operated in all 50 states.  Intended to make the purchase of insurance more affordable and accessible, the exchanges will be online marketplaces where individuals and businesses will be able to compare and purchase health insurance policies.

On November 16, 2012, Governor Nathan Deal informed the U.S Department of Health Services that Georgia did not intend to set up its own health care exchange, citing cost and lack of flexibility as reasons not to go forward with a state-run exchange. Therefore at this point, Georgia’s health care exchange will be run by the federal government. Sen. Unterman has publicly stated she is opposed to the Medicaid expansion and the takeover by the Federal government running state health insurance infrastructure.

Currently, approximately 18 percent of Georgians are uninsured. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that approximately 1.7 million uninsured Georgia residents will be able to buy coverage through the state’s health care exchange.

The Affordable Care Act was enacted in March 2010 to expand health care eligibility and services in Medicaid and private health insurance plans in all 50 states. While key provisions of ACA have already gone into effect, additional initiatives will be phased in over the next decade.

For Immediate Release:
December 6, 2012

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Deputy Director
Shawna Mercer, Senior Communications Specialist