Georgia's Health Care Laws Won't Reduce Uninsured

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New Georgia state laws aimed at reducing the number of uninsured by providing incentives for them to buy lower-premium health care policies are not likely to work, according to a report issued this month by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Florida Times-Union reports.

In an effort to reduce premium prices, the new Georgia plan removes premium taxes from high-deductible plans, gives tax breaks to individuals and small employers and allows insurance companies to provide financial incentives for beneficiaries who promote a healthy lifestyle.

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The report states that rather than help the uninsured, the incentives will reward those already with coverage. Judith Solomon, author of the report, said the incentives are too small to encourage people and companies to buy additional or new health care. Solomon said, "It's not to say that there won't be anybody that gets the benefit of this," adding, "But it's going to be very modest."

The group issued the report in an effort to discourage lawmakers in other states from modeling their own health care laws after Georgia. The Center for Health Transformation "and other groups are now promoting the Georgia approach to other states on misleading grounds," Solomon said.

The new laws were "inspired" by the CHT, led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), the Times-Union reports. Ron Bachman, senior fellow for CHT, said criticisms of the plan come from groups that "don't get it, quite honestly." Bachman said the law is part of a more comprehensive effort to reduce the number of uninsured by removing taxes and government regulations. Bachman pointed to an earlier analysis that showed half a million uninsured Georgia residents likely will sign up for the plans once they become available (Larrabee, Florida Times-Union, 7/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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