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Right-Leaning Think Tank Warns Mississippi Law Markers About State Run Health Insurance Exchange

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 16 Jan 2013 06:14pm | comments
Ed Haismaier

A conservative Washington D.C. think tank is calling on Mississippi legislators stop efforts to set up a state run private health insurance market place known as an exchange. But, as MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, it could be too late for lawmakers to affect the direction of an exchange in Mississippi.

The right-leaning Heritage Foundation used to be a proponent of health insurance exchanges, but they now oppose them as they are established by the health care reform law.

At a joint insurance committee hearing of the Mississippi legislature yesterday, Ed Haislmaier with the Heritage Foundation warned lawmakers that the health care reform law will not give Mississippi the autonomy to run the exchange that some believe it will.

“The issue for the state is do they gain the ability to really change anything and on these matters where the federal government has pre-empted, no they don’t. On the matters where the federal government hasn’t pre-empted their powers are not diminished and they don’t need an exchange to exercise those powers,” Haislmaier said.

If the state does not run an exchange, the federal government will set on up in Mississippi.

Insurance commissioner Mike Chaney has already submitted a blue print for a state-based exchange over the opposition of Governor Phil Bryant.

Tuesday, Mississippi's Attorney General issued an opinion siding with the commissioner.

House insurance committee chair Gary Chism of Columbus says the legislature is being drawn into a fight between the two Republicans but could still play a role.

"The legislature could easily make sure that we remove the questionable authority that he has. Or that we would have a straight out vote of whether we are going to continue as a state exchange or do the federal program,” Chism said.

Democrats on the committee defended the Republican commissioner and his decision to have the exchange run by the state.

Representative Tom Miles of Forest says a state run exchange could be more responsive to Mississippi needs.

"When we have a problem to call Jackson, to call the insurance commissioners department to have someone to talk to when we have a problem. Versus having to call Washington when no one is going to be there to listen. And that is the advantage of the state exchange,” Miles said.

The federal government is waiting for state officials to sort out their differences before approving or rejecting the exchange blueprint....That decision could come as soon as this week.

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Ed Haismaier


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