(May 8, 2008 -- Chicago, IL) Today, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) signed House Bill 977 and Senate Bill 383 into law. The legislation pushes Georgia's health care system in a market-based direction, while focusing on prevention and wellness by allowing insurance companies to reward the healthy behavior that serves as the most effective cure for the chronic diseases that plague the state's population and drain its citizens' pocketbooks of much-needed resources.
The new law also makes individuals' Health Savings Account insurance premiums 100 percent deductible from state income tax and allows a $250 tax credit per employee for small employers who offer HSAs to their employees.
The law also removes all taxes at the state and local levels on health insurance premiums, in an effort to aid the uninsured by cutting government interference in the insuring process, instead of legislating a government takeover of the system.
Health policy experts contacted by The Heartland Institute were quick to praise the legislation. Their statements below can be quoted directly, or each can be contacted for additional information at the telephone numbers and email addresses provided below.
"This legislation is great because it paves the way for small employers to offer personal and portable insurance that can follow workers from job to job. It also allows employers to enact wellness programs to combat the onset of chronic conditions."
Devon M. Herrick, Ph.D
National Center for Policy Analysis
"Georgia has now replaced Massachusetts as the model state for health insurance law, with the clear difference being that Georgia's law will still be a positive model in three years' time."
State Project Director
Center for Health Transformation
"Georgia has made a major addition to the variety of state approaches for increasing coverage and lowering costs. It may become a model for other states once it is tested in the marketplace. It will be especially interesting to compare it to the experience of Massachusetts, where people have gained coverage but at enormous cost to the taxpayers and without doing anything to lower the cost of health care services.
"This Georgia legislation should be considered only an opening to establishing a market-based health care system. Now, let's also ensure that people on public programs can control more of their resources and that there is a wide array of health care provides to choose from."
Consumers for Health Care Choices
"This bill is a smart move for Georgia. By reducing taxes on HSAs, state lawmakers are cutting the cost of health insurance and allowing Georgians to own their own health benefit, without being dependent on an employer or government program. This policy initiative not only helps reduce the number of uninsured, it will give Georgia an edge over other states in attracting new businesses. I wish our state lawmakers would pass a similar bill here."
Washington Policy Center, Seattle
"I applaud Governor Perdue and the Georgia legislature on tackling this tough issue. As Oklahoma studies health care policy over the interim, we will examine the progressive changes Georgia has undertaken. Georgia has now proven to be a leader in addressing the health care issues facing our nation."
Rep. Doug Cox, M.D.
Chairman - Public Health Committee
Oklahoma House of Representatives
"We want to congratulate the Georgia General Assembly and Governor Sonny Purdue for the important step they have taken to offer individuals, families, and small businesses significant financial incentives to purchase high-deductible health insurance policies that are used in conjunction with health savings accounts. House Bill 977 is another example of efforts by lawmakers across the country to help put consumers in charge of their own healthcare decision-making.
"We want to thank Governor Purdue, Representatives Knox, Keen, and Channell, and Senator Judson Hill for their leadership on this helpful measure. The combination of concrete tax incentives and regulatory streamlining the bill provides will offer greater opportunities for even more Georgia consumers to join the 6.1 million Americans who have already chosen to gain more control over their health care spending decisions by establishing their own tax-preferred health savings accounts."
Kevin S. Wrege
Regional Director of State Affairs
Council for Affordable Health Insurance
Nothing in this Media Advisory is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information, contact Jeff Emanuel, managing editor, Health Care News, The Heartland Institute, at 678/492-8228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.