Photo: Rick Austin/AllOnGeorgia

Governor Brian P. Kemp recently joined members of the General Assembly and business leaders to unveil Georgia Access – what Kemp’s office is referring to as a Section 1332 state relief and empowerment waiver to the Affordable Care Act. The governor says Georgia Access will help lower insurance premiums, introduce greater choice in the private health insurance market, and strengthen small businesses across Georgia.

“On the campaign trail, I promised to lead on healthcare reform in Georgia,” Governor Kemp said in a news release last week. “During the 2019 legislative session, I worked with Lt. Governor Duncan, Speaker Ralston, and members of the House and Senate to champion the Patients First Act.

“Since then, we have worked with medical professionals, industry experts, state leaders, our partners in the federal government, and stakeholders to craft a Georgia-centric approach to lower healthcare costs and insurance premiums for Georgia families, enhance access to top-notch doctors and state-of-the-art services, and ultimately improve health outcomes for every Georgian in every part of our state.

“Georgia Access creates a state reinsurance program to incentivize the private sector, empower consumers, and lower insurance premiums for families. This plan shakes up the status quo as we work to enhance access to affordable, quality healthcare in Georgia.

“When combined with Georgia Pathway, our Section 1115 demonstration waiver, we will have healthcare reform in the Peach State that actually puts patients first.”

“I applaud Governor Kemp’s leadership on healthcare reform in Georgia,” said Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King. “Through Georgia Access, we will spur competition, enhance choice in the marketplace, and ultimately lower insurance premiums for families and hardworking Georgians.”
Georgia Access

State Relief and Empowerment 1332 Waiver From Kemp’s Press Release:

Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act, the individual insurance market in Georgia has experienced a significant level of instability. Between 2017 and 2019, the average individual insurance plan in Georgia increased between 27% and 41%. For many Georgia families, private sector health insurance coverage is the largest – and most volatile – expense in their budget. Many are forced to compromise coverage for affordability while others seek new employment opportunities or take another job to foot the bill.

The Governor’s 1332 Waiver, Georgia Access, will launch a state reinsurance program to create more choice, foster competition, and lower insurance costs for families. Like other states with similar programs, Georgia families will see a noticeable reduction in their insurance premiums – some upwards of double digits in certain parts of the state.

To generate a customer-focused and intuitive purchasing experience for Georgia families who qualify for health insurance subsidies (100% to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level), the state – if approved by the federal government – will no longer force Georgians to use Healthcare.Gov as the sole insurance enrollment portal. Instead, shoppers will use services from Direct Enrollment Brokers or purchase a plan directly from insurance providers. Through this waiver, Georgians will have access to more options which cover preexisting conditions and ensure optimal coverage at the right price.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Peach State’s economy, employing millions of Georgians. Local employers have always tried to take care of their employees and their families, but with rapidly rising healthcare costs, many can no longer afford to offer full coverage to these hardworking Georgians. Under current law, employers cannot offset the cost of an employee’s health insurance plan purchased through the federal exchange. Georgia Access waives that restriction and allows employers to invest in the health and well-being of their employees.

Features

• Establishes a reinsurance program where the state assumes part of the insurance claim to reduce risk, exposure
• Lowers private sector insurance rates – upwards of double digits
• Allows Georgians shopping for insurance to bypass Healthcare.gov and use industry-leading websites to find the best coverage at a lower price
• Allows employers to offset healthcare costs for their employees

Benefits

• Makes health insurance affordable for Georgia families
• Fosters competition, grows choice, lowers premiums
• Creates a customer-focused experience for shopping, enrollment
• Empowers employers to provide more benefits to their employees

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Jessica Szilagyi
Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as agricultural news. She has a background in Political Science, with a focus in local government, and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. She's a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

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