Federal Health Care Reform Proceeds in Mississippi LegislatureBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 25 Jan 2011 03:38pm |
The hard work of implementing Federal health care reform in Mississippi is already underway at the Capital. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the legislature is working on one of the biggest provisions in the law.
The federal health care reform law requires that states establish an insurance exchange system. The exchange is basically a market place of insurance plans for people who don't have insurance or can't get it through work.
The exchange will be huge, some estimates have around 400-thousand Mississippians being involved and it will end up being worth billions of dollars.
The question the legislature has to decide is whether the state will run it or a non-profit entity should be in charge.
At a house Medicaid committee hearing, Aaron Sisk with the Department of Insurance recommended a non-profit board that includes people involved in insurance and health care.
"You're in essence creating an insurance company. It is an insurance delivery mechanism. And because of that we thought that it is very important that the people are making the decision for this have knowledge of the industry," Sisk said.
Charles Pace with Blue Cross Blue Shield also supports a non-profit board because he says it would simplify the process for insurers.
"I want one place to go for my rate review, for my financial solvency, for my examination. I don't want to have to double it with another agency or entity out here," Pace said.
But including insurance providers on the board worries consumer advocates like Roy Mitchell with the Mississippi Health Advocacy Center.
"I hate to use the barn yard analogy but we have the fox watching the hen house here. Except that this is the most expensive hen house that is every going to be built in this state. We are talking about a lot of money here," Mitchell said.
The vice-chair of the committee Representative Robert Johnson of Natchez argued that the program is so important, that the state should be in control.
"To the extent that you have government running a program that is a 9-billion dollar program, that's what it will eventually be in this state, then the best oversight you can have are people who are elected to represent the people who are in their areas and their districts," Johnson said.
The exchange will not open until January of 2014. However, if the legislature doesn’t have plans in place in time, the federal government will step in and do it for them.
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