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Monday, November 27, 2006

Massachusetts mandate

Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, last week said the health committee she chairs in the Assembly wouldn't rule out the possibility of mandating health insurance for all Georgians.

Who pays for it is another issue.

There are 1.7 million Georgians without health insurance, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health.

Cooper suspects that many of these are people in the 18-to-early-30s age range who "still think they're infallible." They're young and healthy, and they would rather shoulder a monthly car payment than invest in health insurance, says Cooper, a registered nurse and wife of a doctor.

"If something happens, they'll just throw themselves on the mercy of the state," the legislator says, referring to research in Massachusetts, a state that now mandates health insurance and may serve as a leader for the country, in Cooper's view.

Like a lot of Georgia Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Marietta, Cooper favors expanding private health savings accounts for the uninsured, in part because it would keep down health-care costs, she says.

"We need to involve people more in their own health care," Cooper says. "If you pay for it, it gives you some control over your own health care."

-- Max Pizarro

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