By Mike Chaney
There has been much attention paid recently to the establishment of a health insurance exchange in Mississippi as required under the terms of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
I have publically stated my opposition to PPACA on many occasions and I hope it is repealed. However, it is the law of the land.
The bottom line is simply this – if we do not implement and operate a state-based health insurance exchange by Jan. 1, the federal government will implement and operate one for us, and we will forever give the keys to health insurance in our state to Washington.
I am against turning Mississippi’s health care over to Washington. The Mississippi Insurance Department gets numerous calls daily from consumers seeking help with their health insurance plans. Would all these people be better off having to call some federal bureaucrat when they need help? If we turn the operation of our exchange over to Washington, we would have zero control over what is done within the borders of our own state.
Several governors have banded together and decided not to implement state-based exchanges – opting to let Washington operate them instead. The result is that the states will have no voice and the path will be cleared for the implementation of a single-payer system in this country.
The feds will implement a “one-size-fits-all” exchange in the state.
In short, because we had the foresight to know that Mississippi needed an exchange even before PPACA was passed and upheld by the Supreme Court, Mississippi has a plan.
It is important to note that no state funds are being used to create Mississippi’s exchange. Our exchange is 100 percent federal grant funded.
I have heard and studied the argument that Mississippi should not create a state-based exchange because the PPACA employer responsibility penalties will only attach in states that operate a state-based exchange. This argument is flawed in that it is based solely on speculation and unproven legal theories. The IRS has refuted this claim and has affirmatively stated that subsidies will be available through every state’s exchange regardless of whether it is run by the state or the federal government.
As insurance commissioner it is my job to make decisions based on facts and what is known and not based on speculation or what I would like to see happen.
We believe that pursuant to Mississippi law, the commissioner of Insurance is the appropriate authority to decide whether the state should create a state-based insurance exchange or cede authority to a federally facilitated exchange.
I still believe that a free-market health insurance exchange is good public policy. Exchanges have received broad support across party lines in Mississippi and have been supported by political parties and policy research centers across the state and nation.
I feel it is important to set partisan politics aside and make practical policy decisions that are in the best interests of all Mississippians. This is what I was elected to do.
Mike Chaney, a Republican, is the statewide elected Mississippi commissioner of insurance. Contact him through Joseph Ammerman at Joseph.Ammerman@mid.ms.gov.