ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed an executive order creating a panel to determine whether to establish a state-based health care exchange under the new federal health care law.

Georgia has joined 25 other states in a lawsuit declaring the law's individual mandate to have insurance — a key component of the legislation — unconstitutional. Deal says he wants Georgia to have time to thoroughly study the issue as the judicial process plays out.

"It is my hope that this committee will construct the appropriate avenues for our state to implement our own exchange, based on delivering free market solutions for increasing the access and affordability of health insurance," Deal said in a statement released Thursday. "The exchange should also focus heavily on improving the economic viability of creating and expanding small business in Georgia."

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