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Concerns Remain About Medicaid Insurance Exchange in Miss.

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 24 Jun 2013 08:51am | comments

In 99 days one of the largest pieces of the health care reform law is set to take effect in Mississippi. But, the state might lag behind the rest of the country in implementing the law.

 Starting this fall, Mississippians are expected to be able to shop for private health insurance in an online market place known as an exchange.

 Ron Pollack with the pro-health care reform group families USA says there is a big difference for thousands of uninsured residents because their insurance premiums will be subsidized by the federal government.

 "If family coverage costs say 15,000 dollars and you are eligible for subsidy of 10,000 dollars you would only have to pay the remaining 5,000 dollars. So this is a whole lot different. Your out of pocket costs are going to be much smaller than they ever were before," Pollack said.

 Pollack says the subsidies are on a sliding scale, so lower income Mississippians will get more assistance.

 But the roll out of the law is looking rough in Mississippi.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says only 46 of the 82 counties are currently expected to be covered by private insurance available on the exchange.

 "You got to have a network, a hospital to go to, a set of doctors to go to. You look at the vulnerability of the hospital you have and if it is a non-profit or a 501-C3 hospital which many are in these areas. They have a different type clientele that come there. They are not the best standard hospital. I am not putting anyone down it is just the facts. And the insurance companies don't want to be there," Chaney said.

 The federal government is running the exchange, which Chaney says gives him very little power to bring more insurers to the table.

 In addition, state lawmakers are resisting expanding Medicaid, which is part of the law intended to provide health insurance to 300,000 of the state's poorest residents.

 That fight kept lawmakers from renewing the entire Medicaid program.

 Senator Terry Burton of Newton thinks lawmakers will called back to Jackson this week to save the current program before it expires at the end of the month.

 "Politics aside. Once everybody has a chance to share their rhetoric. To say what they want to say. To demagogue the issue. eventually the bill will pass and the budget will pass and we will have a program," Burton said.

 However, it is unlikely that lawmakers will vote to expand Medicaid, because many state Republicans say Mississippi cannot afford the additional cost.






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