A new bill, designed to prevent any state agency, assisting in implementing “any” provision of the Afffordable Care Act (ACA), will be introduced in the 2014 Legislative session. The bill was pre-filed Monday morning. Representative Jason Spencer, district 180, Woodbine, spokesperson, for the quartet of co-sponsors, said since the Governor and the Speaker have decided not to support ACA, or to expand medicaid, an essential element of ACA, then no state agency, that recieves tax dollars, should be allowed to participate. The bill would essentially make it illegal, for UGA to asssist Navigators, who are trained to help people sign up for the Program. Representative Spencer tells GNN the bill’s passage, is the only way to stop UGA and other agencies participation.
Rep. Spencer talked to Georgia’s Morning News with Zoller and Bryant about the bill. Here’s what he had to say:
Here’s more from GPB and the Macon Telegraph:
A group of five Republican Georgia state legislators opened up a new line of attack against the Affordable Care Act on Monday, following their counterparts in South Carolina in a movement that could soon involve other conservative states.
“Our (proposed legislation) simply says the state of Georgia and any political entity, any agency, any public university or college will simply not be able to implement Obamacare at all,” said lead sponsor Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, in a news conference on the state Capitol steps.
“We’re telling the Obama administration: ‘If you want the ACA in Georgia, you’re going to pay for it and you’re going to implement it. And don’t expect aid from Georgia in doing so,” said co-sponsor state Rep. Michael Caldwell, R-Woodstock.
The two separate bills — also co-sponsored by Reps. David Stover, R-Newnan, Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs, and Kevin Cooke, R-Carrollton — are based on model legislation drafted by the Tenth Amendment Center, a libertarian think tank in Los Angeles. Legislators in South Carolina are currently trying to pass nearly identical measures.
The center’s “Nullify Obamacare in 4 Steps” plan calls for state legislators to pass laws forbidding state agencies “from enforcing, assisting, participating or providing material support to the Affordable Care Act.”
“The federal government relies on state assistance to carry out the act, and this sweeping legislation would ban such participation in every current — and potential future — way,” the group’s website states.
Other steps in the plan call for state tax legislation that would offset the coming federal tax penalty on individuals who do not have insurance.
If passed in Georgia’s upcoming legislative session, the Spencer’s bills could roll back changes under the Affordable Care Act that have already taken effect in the state, said Cynthia Zeldin, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future.
“Earlier this year, the (Georgia) Department of Community Health implemented a primary care provider rate increase for Medicaid providers that was required under the Affordable Care Act,” Zeldin said, and that pay bump for doctors could be in jeopardy if Spencer is successful.
Another existing policy that could be affected, Zeldin said, is a Georgia law that requires so-called “healthcare navigators” who help people sign up for coverage to be licensed by taking a state exam.
Some Georgia navigators are employed by Georgians for a Healthy Future with federal grant money, and their jobs likely would not be affected by Spencer’s bills. However, other navigators who are employed by the University of Georgia might be.
“It is deplorable that Georgia Republicans would sink this low to stand in the way of keeping Georgians healthy,” the Young Democrats of Georgia said in a statement. “Should it pass, this fight is going to cost Georgia millions in legal defense of this blatantly unconstitutional law.”
But Spencer’s approach is on sound legal footing, said Mercer University law professor David Oedel. “No state can declare a federal law null and void. But the federal government, by its own terms, can’t commandeer the states to do its own bidding,” he said.
Oedel was part of the legal team that represented Georgia in its court challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Combined with other state’s cases, it reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012. Justices upheld all parts of the law except that which required states to expand Medicaid eligibility.
The right of states to actively non-cooperate with some aspects of federal law were first established in the 1826 Supreme Court case Prigg v. Pennsylvania, Oedel said. In that decision, the court ruled that the abolitionist government of Pennsylvania was under no obligation to enforce the federal Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed slave owners to recover runaway slaves in free states.
Assuming that Spencer’s legislation was passed and upheld by the courts, Oedel said, it’s hard to say how health care in Georgia would be affected. “The ACA is such a complex creature,” he said.
GPB’s Ellen Reinhardt contributed to this report.