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Despite the latest setbacks in D.C. on health care reform, legislators in Georgia seem to be confident that Congress will pass legislation, and they are anxious have their objections to the current national health care reform proposals heard.

Today, the members Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass  Senate Resolution 795, sponsored by Senator Seth Harp which proposes a constitutional amendment stating that goverment may not compell individuals to purchase health insurance and Senate Resolutions 829 and 830, sponsored by Senator Judson Hill which direct Georgia’s Attorney General to begin preparations to challenge the constitutionality of the national health reform legislation.  Two committee members, Senators Fort and Ramsey, both Democrats, were opposed to the measures.

In speaking in support of his legislation, Sen. Hill called the national health reform bills “unprecedented” because the “penalize people for inactivity.”  He explained that government should penalize people for doing something wrong, not penalize them for neglecting to do something like buy insurance.  Senator Crosby also evoked the 10th amendment of the US constitution in stating his support of the resolutions.

Senator Ramsey spoke against the resolutions and stated that he felt that the time and resources of the Attorney General’s office would not be well used preparing for a lawsuit on a bill that might not pass. Senator Fort added that he opposed the resolutions on ideological grounds since the health care reform bill currently being considered by Congress “would be a godsend to my constituents and to Grady hospital.”

The resolutions passed with just a few minutes of discussion and no public comment.  I’m sure the members of Congress wish that they could so easily reach agreement on action, affordable coverage and accountability to ensure improvements for children and families.

In many ways, Massachusetts has held the spotlight throughout the majority of the national health reform conversation. For one, Massachusetts is unique in having passed legislation aimed at covering all within their state. For another, one of the most fervent champions for health reform is the late Senator Ted Kennedy who hailed from the state of Massachusetts.  And in the aftermath of this Tuesday’s Senatorial election in Massachusetts, our collective gaze turns once more to this attention-grabbing state.

But what is the level of significance that Massachusetts’ election has on the entirety of U.S. politics?

With the election of Senator Brown, a Republican, Senate Democrats have lost their supermajority. Technically speaking, Democrats had only comprised 58 of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate. But with 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats, they had totalled 60–the magic number needed to override any filibuster on the health reform legislation. (For those who need a refresher from your courses in high school civics, a filibuster is a process used by legislators to either slow or completely block passage of legislation)  And following the election of Senator Brown, they total 59.

So now what?

Now the leaders who drafted and introduced the legislation must consider a variety of options on how to move forward with health reform. Check back with Voices’ website to read up on some of the options detailed within our forthcoming weekly legislative update.

Regardless of whatever option is chosen, the health reform process continues. I’m sure many of us in the health policy field had assumed that something concrete would have happened by now. Many of us who have been watching closely grow weary with each day, week, month that passes while the debate continues.

But we have to remember that the reforms of today will impact not only our generation but those to come as well.  It is not in vain that we continue to advocate for meaningful reform to our current health care system.

We must be determined.  And tireless.


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