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Stopping the Obamacare train wreck

POSTED: May 8, 2014 6:23 p.m.

Since graduating from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy in 1980, I have had the privilege of practicing in what I believe is the greatest health care system in the world.

During my 33-plus years of serving patients as a pharmacist, I have seen many changes in our health care system, the vast majority of which have been positive and have made our system even better.

That’s why I’m so concerned with what is happening in health care today — specifically with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

In my opinion, Obamacare threatens to ruin the greatest health care system in the world and it must be stopped.

Fortunately, this past session the Georgia state legislature took steps to try to stop this job-killing, budget-busting disaster.

I was proud to introduce and pass out of the Senate Insurance Committee SB 334, the Georgia Health Care Freedom Act, a bill that prohibits state and local governments from advocating for the expansion of Medicaid coverage in Georgia.

It also prohibits state and local governments from establishing or operating a health care exchange or navigator program, or accepting any money to operate an exchange.

Although SB 334 did not make it to the Senate floor for a vote, it was eventually added to HB 943 where it passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal.

With this new law, Georgia becomes one of the first states in the nation to actively oppose Obamacare through the legislative process.

Another piece of anti-Obamacare legislation that passed the legislature this year was HB 990, which shifted the decision-making power of expanding Medicaid from the governor to the Legislature.

Although Governor Deal has been steadfast in opposing Medicaid expansion, shifting the decision-making power from the executive branch to the legislative branch should prove to be even more of a deterrent to any future expansion.

In my opinion, this is one of the best pieces of legislation passed in years.  Although groups such as the Medical Association of Georgia and the American Medical Association have actively advocated for the expansion of Medicaid, I and other conservatives remain adamantly opposed to such a move.

Ronald Reagan once said, “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.”

Expanding Medicaid, one of the primary components of Obamacare, would serve to only make more people dependent on government. It is estimated that expansion would add 650,000 people, mostly adults without children, to the Medicaid rolls at a cost of $2.5 billion to the state over the next decade.

Even without this potentially disastrous financial impact, we are already feeling the financial burden of Obamacare on our state’s budget. In fact, the fiscal year 2015 budget passed this session includes $101.3 million in state funds in Medicaid and PeachCare as a result of Obamacare.

Add to that $103 million that the State Health Benefit Plan was forced to add in order to comply with Obamacare provisions such as additional preventative benefits, cost sharing limits, and increased enrollment due to the individual mandates, and you can see why this is truly a budget buster.

Obamacare is indeed a train wreck and it must be stopped before it ruins the greatest health care system in the world.

Sen. Buddy Carter can be reached at 421-B State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-5109. You can connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/buddycarterga or follow him on Twitter @Buddy_Carter.

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