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Ga. Official: ‘Obamacare’ Could Raise Health Care Rates By 198 Percent

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File photo of Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens made his request for the delay to her. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

File photo of Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens made his request for the delay to her. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta/AP) — The state of Georgia was supposed to implement its health exchange program under the Affordable Care Act on Oct. 1 of this year. It may not do so, however, because the state has formally requested an emergency delay.

According to the Savannah Morning News, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens requested the 30-day delay from Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a reported effort to edit health plans submitted by the seven insurance companies in the state before they are approved.

He further explained in the official letter requesting the delay that some proposed rates were 198 percent higher than those presently offered to state residents, and that people throughout Georgia “cannot afford these massive rate increases.”

“President [Barack] Obama promised Americans that ‘Obamacare’ would lower rates, but here in Georgia insurance companies are demanding massive rate increases … for some individuals,” he was additionally quoted as saying in his correspondence.

The paper learned that Sebelius issued a statement saying that she will review the request.

The state-run health benefits exchange is rolling out in October, and is considered to be a centerpiece of the federal health care overhaul. Individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for insurance through HealthSource RI, with many qualifying for subsidies or tax credits, and the exchange’s success will rely in large part on how many use it.

Individuals will have to have health insurance from their employer or purchase it, and will pay a roughly $100 penalty next year if they don’t. Anyone making below the poverty line won’t be eligible to buy insurance through the online marketplace.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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