Legislative update: Cross-state health insurance bill advances


Last week the House convened for legislative days 28 through 30. As I have previously mentioned, Day 30 of the legislative session is referred to as “Cross-Over Day,” as it is the final day of the session that a bill can move out of the House or Senate and still be considered by the other body before the end of the session on Day 40.

It is always a long and late day with dozens of bills being considered on the floor of the House, and this year was no different.

There were a number of important debates on Friday and some significant and important legislation was adopted in the House and will now move to the Senate.

I am very pleased to report that a measure (HB 1184) I authored to allow Georgians to purchase health insurance plans that are offered in other states was adopted in the House by a vote of 108-55.

The bill is critical to giving Georgia consumers a greater range of choice in the individual health insurance market.

In my opinion, this is the kind of free-market solution to the uninsured problem that President Obama and the Democrats in Washington should have followed, rather than the healthcare reform path they chose, which increases exponentially the role of the government in the lives of American citizens.

In a nutshell, Governor Perdue and the legislators that support HB 1184 believe healthcare reform should be accomplished through empowering the individual consumer by unlocking the forces of the free market, versus stifling the free market through the imposition of new taxes and mandates on Americans, as will occur under President Obama’s healthcare reform initiative.

Unfortunately, the Democrats in the Georgia legislature believe as President Obama does that government knows better than the individual citizen about what type of insurance plan is best for them.

The Democratic leadership in the Georgia House worked vigilantly to defeat the bill, and fortunately were unsuccessful, as the majority in the House sided with the individual Georgia consumer over the special interests that were working to defeat the bill. The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Another measure that was the source of significant debate was a bill by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Bibb County), which I cosponsored, to prohibit texting while driving in Georgia.

Included in the bill via a committee amendment was the provision that I promoted last year that would prohibit all cellphone use for Class D drivers under the age of 18 while driving.

As new data continues to come out regarding the dangers of texting while driving, it only further underscores the need for this is important public safety legislation. I am pleased to report that the measure passed with a strong vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The House also passed HB 1040, important legislation that provides the elderly and disabled greater opportunity to receive in-home care.

Georgia’s current nurse practice act prohibits certain health maintenance activities from being performed by anyone other than a registered nurse.

For individuals with disabilities that cannot perform what would be routine tasks, but for their disability, this creates an extreme economic hardship because of the cost incurred paying for daily in-home care.

This economic burden has forced many individuals into state-maintained healthcare institutions because they simply could not afford the daily cost to fund in-home health maintenance activities such as the dispensation of medication.

The legislation would allow a friend or community member to be trained by a nurse and serve as a proxy-care giver for the purpose of providing such health maintenance activities.

The measure will put more authority in the hands of the consumer and provide much more flexibility to patients as they seek the healthcare option that best serves their needs.

In the weeks ahead the budget will again take the forefront as the House Appropriations Committee continues work on the FY 2011 budget. I will keep the community posted as this measure moves forward.

I look forward to the continued feedback from members of the community on issues of concern to Fayette County.

[Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) was first elected to the District 72 post in December 2007. He is a law partner with Warner, Hooper, and Ramsey, P.C., in Peachtree City. His email is matt.ramsey@house.ga.gov.]