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Some Mississippians See Positives In Delay Of Insurance Exchange Plan

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 04 Jan 2013 05:05pm | comments

Conservative groups in Mississippi are reacting with excitement to news that the federal government has decided to delay potential approval of a state run health insurance exchange. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the delay could eventually cede control of the exchange to the federal government.

The Department of Health and Human Services is waiting to give preliminary approval of a private health insurance market place known as an exchange.

The department cited a fight between Governor Phil Bryant and Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney...who are both republicans....over who has the authority to submit an exchange blueprint.

The delay could mean the Mississippi does not get approval, which is a good thing according to Jake McGuire who read a prepared statement from the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.

"Obamacare exchanges come with many strings attached, including subsidies that would add to our ballooning federal debt. Ending our pursuit of the exchange will spare Mississippi from job losses, expensive administrative costs, and more intrusion by the federal government.

There are better ways to help the people who are uninsured, and we look forward to working with our public officials on solutions that allow people’s real needs to be me," McGuire said.

McGuire also questions if congress has the authority to levee fines against businesses of 50 or more employees who choose not to purchase insurance through an exchange.

Teresa Hannah with the Mississippi center for Health Policy says the health care reform law laid out three routes to set up the private health insurance market place.

"The state can set up a state based insurance exchange. Or they can work in a partnership exchange where they can do some of the work and let the federal government do other functions. Or they can just let the federal government operate the exchange," Hannah said.

It’s that third option that creates political tension....a rejected approval could mean turning total control of an exchange to the federal government.

Marty Wisemann, the director of the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University says exchanges were originally a conservative idea but have become partisan since they were included in the health care reform law.

"The notion of insurance exchanges began prior to what is being referred time as 'Obamacare'. Back during the Haley Barbour administration, as a good way to create a market place that would make insurance available to people," Wisemann said.

The Department of Health and Human Services did not give any time frame to reconsider approval, but exchanges...whether state or federally run...are supposed fully functional by the start of 2014.

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