The measure requires a constitutional amendment, needing the approval of both two-thirds of the Senate and House before being placed on the ballot before the voters in 2010.
Called the Health Care Freedom of Choice Constitutional Amendment, the legislation was modeled after the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, which protects the individual rights of patients to obtain the health insurance of their choosing and to pay directly for medical care. Georgia joins the ranks of legislators from 14 other states who have already filed or pre-filed similar legislation. Legislators in another 10 states have publicly announced their intention to file the legislation. The legislation passed in Arizona earlier this year, Hill said.
The bill was pre-filed in the House by state Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton).
"We have taken the first step in protecting Georgians from government-run health care and intrusive government mandates. If Congress' proposed government option mandate becomes law, then the federal government will become a significant decision maker in Georgians' medical care," Hill said.
"The time has come for us as citizens, and Georgia as a sovereign state, to stand up to the federal government and stop these mandates that trample individual rights," he said.
Hill quoted the 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," adding, "We, as elected representatives, must do what we can to ensure these basic rights for the citizens of Georgia."
State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell) believes Hill's intentions are admirable to help ensure Georgians can get the care they need, when they need it.
"Unfortunately, this proposed constitutional amendment would not achieve that objective. I believe it would tie the hands of Georgians and prevent them from developing a health care system that is accessible to all, regardless of income, and of the highest quality," she said.
The bill distracts from a real problem at hand, which is that Georgia has close to 1.7 million people who are uninsured, Morgan said.
"If we are to truly create consumer choice in health care, we need to support the federal reform bill that is now before the U.S. Senate," she said.
The U.S. Senate bill would end the practice of insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, allow Georgians to seek care from the doctor of their choice or require Americans to purchase a government-run health plan, she said.
"Instead of going after the consumer and small business-friendly bill being debated in the Senate, we should go after the insurance companies, which repeatedly deny health care to Georgian families and hold payments from our family physicians," Morgan said.
For more information on Hill's legislation, go to www.judsonhill.com.