Update: SB 407, and it's companion in the House, both ended up passing two days after Sen. Unterman helped shoot 407 down. Jim Galloway has some excellent coverage on this issue.
Senate Bill 407, which would allow out-of-state insurance companies to sell their policies in Georgia, has caused a real stir in the Georgia Senate this afternoon.
About a dozen women from the Georgia House of Representatives have come into the Senate chamber to show their solidarity against the bill. Most of them are Democrats, but state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Burofd, is leading the charge against this thing.
Sen. Unterman and others said they had to fight hard in recent years to mandate that Georgia insurance companies cover various women's health issues, such as mammograms. Out of state policies wouldn't be subject to those mandates, leading to concerns that Georgian who buy them won't get the coverage they deserve.
There are also concerns that large companies will buy cheaper out-of-state policies and then pawn them off on employees who probably won't notice that they've gotten a bare-bones policy not fully regulated by the Georgia Insurance Commissioner.
The commissioner would be able to suspend out of state sales if he or she thinks the policies are bad for Georgians, but since insurance companies give generous campaign donations to insurance commissioners, that was little comfort to opponents of the bill.
Update: Sen. Unterman has been successful, getting the bill tabled for now. She's going around the chamber patting some of the men on the back and saying thank you.
Ladies from the House cast a watchful eye on the men of the Senate.
Sen. Unterman: Don't you dare vote for this bill.
Update: State Sen. Judson Hill, who has been trying to get this bill passed for four years now, says all 50 states mandate that insurance companies cover mammograms and reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy, among other procedures.
He said that some Georgia families without insurance might be able to afford it if they were able to buy out-of-state policies.
"This bill was about one thing: Individual choice and freedom. ..." Hill said. "(We need to) ignite the competitive forces in the (insurance) market place."