Daily Dispatches
Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.
Associated Press/Photo by Angela Lewis
Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

No Obamacare delay in Georgia despite skyrocketing rate increases

Healthcare

The Obama administration earlier today rejected the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s emergency request for a 30-day delay in implementing Obamacare.

The commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, sent the delay request after he saw dramatic increases in insurance rates from the seven companies that plan to offer coverage through the new healthcare law’s exchange. Two of the insurance companies pulled out of the exchange yesterday.

Declining to respond to the commissioner’s request, the administration effectively forced Georgia to accept the insurance proposals. “Although not surprised, I am disappointed in the unresponsiveness of the Obama administration,” Hudgens said.

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In a letter sent Monday to U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Hudgens wrote: “Dear Madam Secretary: In complete contradiction to every promise made by the President with regard to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), insurance companies in Georgia have filed rate plans increasing health insurance rates.” He said some of the rates had risen 198 percent, and asked for a 30-day extension so he could review the proposals. The health exchanges are expected to go live Oct. 1.

Graham Thompson of the Georgia Association of Health Plans told Georgia Health News the more robust coverage requirements under Obamacare “come with higher costs,’’ and a majority of people are going to see their premiums increase because of the changes under the Affordable Care Act. But he said the 198-percent increase “is an extreme case.”

Hudgens, who was elected on an anti-Obamacare platform, said in a statement that the pullout of the two companies shows the instability of the new healthcare exchange.

“Obamacare has created great uncertainty in the health insurance market, and I am not surprised that Aetna and Coventry have decided not to participate in the federally facilitated Georgia exchange,” he said. “The exchanges are a centerpiece of the healthcare law, and this announcement means that only five health insurance companies will be operating on the Georgia exchange.”

Georgia is not alone. Florida’s office of insurance regulation also released information about new insurance rates Tuesday, announcing premiums for individuals will rise about 30 to 40 percent next year, according to Reuters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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