Feds block Georgia’s plan for private sector to deal with ACA

ATLANTA (AP) — The administration of President Joe Biden on Friday halted Governor Brian Kemp’s plan to get the private sector, not the government, involved in efforts to get state residents to underwrite insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Kemp, a Republican, planned to bypass Healthcare.gov and have residents buy federally subsidized health insurance through private agents. The administration of former President Donald Trump approved this plan in 2020, and state officials touted it as a way to increase insurance coverage.

But federal regulators said Kemp’s planned market changes could violate federal rules on insurance exemptions and cause many people to be taken out of coverage, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The letter from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gives Georgia until July 28 to formulate a “corrective action plan … coverage provided without the waiver, and that the waiver will not increase the federal deficit.”

A spokesperson for Kemp told the paper that his office is reviewing the decision.

The Biden administration’s Friday decision will not have an immediate effect on people who bought insurance through the open market.

The governor’s office said private websites would provide better services and offer more options that would increase insurance coverage in the state.

But critics fear the move will make it harder to buy insurance and push healthy people to cheaper plans that offer limited coverage, raising insurance premiums for older and sicker people who need the comprehensive benefits required by the ACA. That’s because Georgia’s move to private sites would make it easier for consumers to simultaneously view plans that don’t offer all the benefits required by the ACA.

An opponent of the Kemp plan, Georgians for a Healthy Future director Laura Colbert, said the suspension was justified.

“Any plan that significantly disrupts health insurance for 700,000 people should be carefully considered,” Colbert said in an emailed statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Georgia’s leaders declined to answer questions about their plan to separate from Healthcare.gov and disregarded evidence that their plan would mean some hardworking Georgians would lose their coverage.”

The plan to block ACA’s purchases on Healthcare.gov was one of two Kemp proposals that could be decided in the courts. The other is Kemp’s plan to expand Medicaid to the poor, but only if they meet a job requirement. The Biden administration has already blocked that proposal, a move Georgia has sued.

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