Georgia governor's health care plan would allow subsidies to pay for ObamaCare alternatives

Georgia governor's health care plan would allow subsidies to pay for ObamaCare alternatives
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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) unveiled a health care proposal Thursday that would allow residents to use ObamaCare subsidies for plans that don't meet the law's coverage requirements. 

Under the plan, which must be approved by the Trump administration before taking effect, the subsidies could be used to buy short-term and association health plans that are typically cheaper than ObamaCare but cover fewer benefits.

"Through these new, innovative measures Georgians will have access to more insurance options like association health plans that cover our friends and neighbors with pre-existing conditions," Kemp said Thursday at an event announcing the plan. 

The Trump administration has already indicated it would approve state programs that would allow subsidies to pay for plans that don't comply with the law's coverage requirements. 

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Republicans say these plans offer another choice for consumers who can't afford ObamaCare's more comprehensive plans. But Democrats say the plans offer skimpy benefits and can lead to high out-of-pocket costs. 

Kemp's office subsidies would only pay for plans that cover preexisting conditions.

The proposal would also take Georgia off of healthcare.gov, the federal government's ObamaCare enrollment platform that is used by 38 states.

Instead, residents would enroll through private websites and brokers.

Healthcare.gov only sells ObamaCare-compliant plans while third-party websites often sell plans with varying levels of coverage.

Kemp's plan would also ask the Trump administration to establish a "reinsurance" program to help insurance companies offset the claims of high-cost customers. 

The governor's office said reinsurance would lower insurance rates by double digits. 

"The reinsurance program will make insurance providers compete for your business, offering more plans at better prices, hard work and Georgians will have the money in their pocket to invest in span and their local community," Kemp said. 

Health care was a major issue in the Georgia gubernatorial race between Kemp and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Kemp opposed ObamaCare while Abrams pushed for Georgia to join the 36 states that have expanded Medicaid to cover more low-income adults.