Republicans in the legislature must be eyeing their reelection campaigns. Late Tuesday they acted with, among other intents, to make sure the November elections are largely about Obamacare.

The passage of House Bill 990 puts the General Assembly in charge of whether the state expands Medicaid. And it won’t, at least this year. Right now the governor has that power. (This governor wasn’t going to expand it either.)

House Bill 943 codifies what is already a reality: Georgia will not establish any Affordable Healthcare Act insurance exchanges. Further, it prevents anyone associated with state or local government from advocating for healthcare exchanges.

The bill was a weaker one than the one sponsored by Rep. Jason Spencer and others that had called for a ban on the state having anything to do with implementing Obamacare.

The bills that passed late Tuesday had other specifics, but the long and short of it is that the state, or should we say the Republicans, made a strong statement that Georgia and Obamacare don’t mix.

Many observers – and some Democrats – said the whole affair was as much symbolic as substantive. And whatever else these bills are about, they’re about hanging the millstone of Obamacare around the necks of Democrats in Georgia.

There was some sentiment Tuesday night at the Capitol that the two bills – providing they are signed by the governor, which they will be – could hurt Republicans with voters; that official interference by the GOP-dominated General Assembly and the governor could leave them open to the charge that the Affordable Health Care Act would have worked better had Republicans left it alone.

But now statewide and other Democratic candidates are in a bind: They are going to be forced to debate Obamacare in the fall, thanks to state action by Georgia’s government.  They can either state their support for Obamacare, agree with the two bills that passed Tuesday night, or try to nuance their way somewhere in the middle. No easy task.


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