The future of the Mississippi Health Exchange is in an indeterminate state due to a disagreement between the Governor - Phil Bryant and Insurance commissioner - Mike Chaney. The argument is about who would create and submit the plan for federal approval.
The online marketplace where people buy health insurance is called a health exchange. Under President Obama's new health law of 2010 exchanges are set in states that run with the help of the Federal government or by the State.
AdvertisementIn November Bryant objected to the proposal submitted by Chaney to the Department of Health and Human Services. Bryant, who has objections to the federal law, sent 2 letters to the secretary - Kathleen Sibelius - to block Chaney's proposal.
Bryant had written that he would support a state run association which was not associated by the federal law. He wrote, "It is inevitable that such an exchange will be controlled by the federal government, not by the State. The federal government has never provided funds for a program without ultimately seizing control of it."
Bryant pointed out that in 2011, the insurance commissioner sought permission from the Legislature to create a health insurance exchange, but legislators didn't pass the bill. After that, Chaney said he didn't need legislative permission to create an exchange, and the Mississippi Insurance Department started working on a plan.
Bryant wrote in his Dec. 28 letter that the Mississippi Constitution specifies that the chief executive power in the state belongs to the governor, and that the constitution does not mention the Insurance Department. "I have concluded that MID lacks authority under Mississippi's Constitution and laws to create an exchange under ACA," Bryant wrote. "Therefore, HHS should not certify an exchange based on MID's application."
Gary Cohen, director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said the Department of Health and Human Services "is not approving or denying Mississippi's application at this time." The office that Cohen heads at the department is responsible for the rollout of the federal health care law. "We understand there is an ongoing disagreement" among state officials, Cohen said.
Federal officials were trying to understand the question of legal authority, though clear that the final authority rested with the state law. Chaney was not available to clear the point, but he did not like the federal health law. "The whole goal here is to help the consumer in this state have more information and make an intelligent decision about what they are going to buy," Chaney said Nov. 14, when he said he had completed the exchange proposal and was planning to submit it to Washington.
Americans who were not insured would now be able buy insurance through the State Health Exchange, by 1st October 2013 and cover would be valid from 1st January 2014.About 8 of 10 people would be eligible for federal aid. Small businesses would come under a different Exchange.
Reference: Emily Wagster Pettis