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6:10 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Lawmaker Says Bill to Block Affordable Care Act Still Alive

A bill aimed at exempting Georgia from some provisions of the Affordable Care Act seems to have found new life. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House. But the Senate Rules Committee tabled House Bill 707 Monday. That drew some harsh words from the bill’s sponsor.

Jason Spencer, a Republican from Woodbine, is sponsoring the legislation. He told WABE’s Michell Eloy the bill is still alive.

“I have gotten word through a third party, from the governor’s office, that his office is wanting to work on 707,” Spencer said.    

When the bill stalled, Spencer issued a sharply-worded press release calling out his fellow Republicans for voting with Democrats to kill the bill. He vowed to “identify the Republican Benedict Arnolds” at a press conference, which he later canceled.

“I think my words of protest recently, in my media advisory, I think spurred some progress there,” he said. “I believe that Republicans know that we do have to take a stand against the Affordable Care Act because it’s such an egregious federal law.”

Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, is sponsoring HB 707.
Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, is sponsoring HB 707.
Credit State of Georgia Tea Party

The bill would do five things. It would ban state agencies from using public resources to advocate for a Medicaid expansion. It would prevent Georgia from running its own exchange or taking grant money to do so. It would end a health navigator program at the University of Georgia. And it would bar the state insurance commissioner from enforcing provisions of the ACA.

Elizabeth Weeks Leonard is a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law. Leonard, who specializes in health care law, says if the bill passes, it will be largely symbolic.

“We have elected not to establish a state-based exchange and we’ve elected not to expand Medicaid,” Leonard says. “There’s no federal law that we’ve chosen to be bound by by accepting incentives and this legislation effectively just codifies that posture.

Spencer, the bill’s sponsor, says the governor's office is looking for another bill to pair with HB 707. 

A spokesman for Gov. Deal said his office doesn’t comment on pending legislation.