On Friday, Mississippi became the nation’s first state to find its proposal for a health insurance exchange rejected by federal authorities. U.S. government officials laid the blame at the feet of Governor Phil Bryant, who, they alleged, had put up strong opposition to the plan.
In a letter to the state, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services observed, “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.”
It is well known that Governor Bryant and his supporters are opposed to the new healthcare law, and claim that opening a state-run exchange would allow the law to have a foothold in Mississippi. Governor Bryant claims “Obamacare” would plunge the state into Medicaid related debts.
While the Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican, is also opposed to the federal healthcare reform law, he fought to have a state-run system installed so that Mississippi could control its own insurance market, and in the process be able to save thousands of jobs.
It is ironical that while states, many of who essentially followed Chaney’s improvisations in calling for a state-run insurance exchange, had mostly received conditional approval, the proposal lodged by Chaney in November, found rejection.
Until now, seventeen states and the District of Columbia have already received such approval for state owned health exchanges.
The deadline for states to submit their own proposals for health exchanges is Feb 15. States can either reject the provision or participate in federal partnership exchanges allowing them to remain in control of major insurance plans and aid.
Health exchanges will allow consumers to compare plans by healthcare providers to make such plans and providers work more transparently. In states where health exchanges will not be formed in partnership with the federal government, the federal authorities would themselves set up health exchanges for people to enroll themselves.