ATLANTA – State Sen. Tim Golden (R-Valdosta) has introduced legislation that would establish a state commission to review existing and future health insurance benefit and provider mandates that are imposed on Georgia’s small businesses.
“Repeatedly over the past several years, legislation has been introduced requiring additional mandated benefits that drive up the cost of health insurance,” said Golden, secretary of the Senate Insurance Committee and chair of its Subcommittee on Life, Health & Workers Compensation. “My legislation provides a process for taking a closer look at these mandates and the impact they will have on Georgia businesses and their employees and advising the governor and General Assembly as to which existing mandates should be continued and which new proposals should be enacted.”
Under SB 17, the Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits would be comprised of 15 members and three ex-officio members, including representatives from the medical, business and insurance communities and the general public. The commission would work with the Department of Insurance to collect data and assess the impact of mandated benefits and providers, including costs to employers and insurers, effectiveness of treatment, costs savings in the health care system and other factors.
The legislation calls for the commission to evaluate existing mandated benefits and providers and report its findings to the General Assembly by Dec. 31, 2012, and conduct a similar assessment of all health insurance mandates proposed in the future.
“Members of the National Federation of Independent Business have listed health insurance as their No. 1 problem every year since 1986,” Golden said. “On average, small businesses pay 18 percent more for health insurance coverage than large businesses. The insurance mandate legislation regularly considered by Georgia lawmakers, applying only to small group and individual plans, further increases the costs that small businesses must pay to provide insurance.”
Georgia Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President David A. Raynor said, “Even a 1 percent increase in health care costs can impact an employer’s decision to offer this important benefit to their employees and drive even more Georgians onto the rolls of the uninsured. Insurance mandates add costs that our state’s businesses simply cannot afford.”
Golden concluded, “Many individuals and small businesses simply cannot obtain affordable coverage, which results in increased costs to Georgia taxpayers under the Medicaid or Peach Care for Kids programs.”