The first state to have its insurance health exchange proposal rejected is Mississippi and federal officials said it was due to Governor Phil Bryant's opposition.
"With a lack of support from your governor and no formal commitment to coordinate from other state agencies, we do not see a feasible pathway to conditionally approving a state-based exchange in Mississippi for 2014," the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a letter to the state.
AdvertisementMississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican, had waged a bitter battle with Bryant and other fellow party leaders in his state over implementing a state-run health insurance exchange.
According to President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act all states must have a health insurance exchange by January 2014.
Governor Bryant opposed a state run exchange as he said it would fetter the state with inflated Medicaid debts.
Chaney is against the federal healthcare reform law. Though, he argued that a state-based system would let Mississippi control its own insurance market, saving thousands of jobs and millions of dollars. According to local media, Chaney was let down by the rejection and he blamed politics rather than the merit of his proposal.
On receipt of the denial letter Chaney said he would continue to work to build a state operated health exchange with the help of the federal government so that it could run independently.
"This would be a free-market approach to solving some of the state's insurance problems faced by small businesses," Chaney said in a statement. He has worked on this exchange for more than a year and the state had submitted its plans to the federal government in November.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have received conditional approval to establish their own state exchanges. The federal government would operate the exchanges for states that did not apply.
States could opt for the federal government to run their health exchange with minimal participation or in partnership with the government.
February 15th is the deadline when states have to declare their intentions to run federal partnership exchanges. The Health and Human Services Department said on Friday that it considered Mississippi "an excellent candidate" for that model.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Emily Le Coz, Feb 2013
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