State short on help as health care law approaches

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ATLANTA, Ga. - A major part of The Affordable Care Act will go into effect and some say Georgia is nowhere near ready and the state's top insurance official won't talk about the topic.

Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary has learned there will be very few people ready to help Georgians sign up for health insurance when the law takes effect next week.

The state has issued a license to just one navigator and there should be nearly 100.

Uninsured Georgians can go to healthcare.gov and sign up for insurance in a federal exchange starting Oct. 1. Geary found Georgia's Republican leaders are not pushing to be fully prepared.

"Let me tell you what, we're doing everything in our power to be an obstructionist," Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens told Republicans at an event in Floyd County last month.

Geary found no information for Georgia health insurance consumers on the state insurance commissioner's website, unlike other states relying on a federal exchange.

Hudgen's spokesman told Geary the commissioner is not granting interviews on the topic at this time.

"It is astonishing to hear that our insurance commissioner is declining to make any comments," said state Sen. Nan Orrock.

Some Democrats told Geary while the law is not perfect, it's here and they expect Hudgens, who is a statewide elected official, to represent all Georgians.

"Isn't it the insurance commissioner's job to inform Georgians about what are your options in obtaining that health care?" Orrock asked.

Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon praised Georgia leaders for not getting involved.

"I don't think that accelerating anyone's entry into a program that I believe is destined for failure is doing anyone any kind of service," McKoon said.

"I think the reason we're not hearing more about it in Georgia is that we're going to see over the next couple of months, I think, is the beginning of the end of The Affordable Care Act because it is a tremendous over promise," McKoon said.

A spokesman for the insurance commissioner said seven people have passed the state test and have to get fingerprinted to become navigators.

Another nine are scheduled to take the test, but they did not confirm if they would be ready by Oct. 1.



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