Health Care In The StatesShort Takes On News & Events

Feds Blame Mississippi Governor For Exchange Denial

By Phil Galewitz

February 8th, 2013, 1:43 PM

One, Mississippi has become No, Mississippi.

The Obama administration on Friday offered an explanation for why it rejected Mississippi’s bid to establish a state-based online health insurance marketplace, called One, Mississippi. In a letter, the federal government’s top exchange official said they had no choice because Gov. Phil Bryant would not allow the exchange to work with Medicaid and other agencies under his control.

“There is no feasible pathway to approving a state-based Marketplace in Mississippi for 2014 without support from Governor Bryant and agreements to coordinate with other state agencies,” Gary Cohen, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight wrote in the letter Friday to state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney.

Federal officials said state-based marketplaces, as part of the conditions for their approval, must prove they can work with other agencies so people who apply for coverage will be directed seamlessly to private insurance or government programs such as Medicaid. Bryant, a Tea Party Republican, has made clear he would not allow that.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (Photo by Lance Cheung/USDA via Flickr)

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia applied to develop a state-based marketplace, or exchange. Mississippi is the only one to be denied. Utah’s application is still facing uncertainty because Republican Gov. Gary Herbert does not want to meet all the federal requirements.

States that don’t form their own marketplace will have one run by the federal government starting Oct. 1, with coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014. The marketplaces are a key component of the federal health law to expand coverage to millions of people starting next year.

A federal official insisted that Bryant and other recalcitrant governors will not be able to impede operation of a federal exchange from connecting people to Medicaid.

Chaney, the Republican insurance commissioner,  had been developing the state exchange for 18 months and had even begun advertising the new website at college football games and on billboards. But when it came time to seek federal approval in December, Bryant stepped in the way, saying he would not aid its operation and that Chaney did not have the authority to start the exchange.

Federal officials Friday said they hope the Mississippi Insurance Department will apply for a state partnership marketplace before the Feb. 15 deadline. In the partnership model, the federal government does most of the work while the state handles consumer assistance and reviews the health plans that apply for inclusion.

9 Responses to “Feds Blame Mississippi Governor For Exchange Denial”

  1. obamacare is not health care reform. It is an insurance tax.
    Health care reform would insure that all citizens, regardless of income or beliefs, have access to quality and affordable care.
    Instead, this plan forces you to buy insurance.

  2. W Khalifa says:

    You don’t want health care reform. You want “free” health care for all. “Obamacare” is a small step towards that direction. Btw, nothing is ever “free” in this world.

  3. larry says:

    When ranked with all of the other states in terms of healthcare indicators such as access, quality, cost, insurance, preventive care, potentially avoidable hospital visits, and premature death, Mississippi is tied for last place with Oklahoma. Why would Governor Bryant expect anything but rejection?

  4. Larry:
    I think you meant the Federal Gov’t should have expected Bryant to rain on the parade. If so, I agree with that.

    red de mercadeo:
    One originally dreamed up by the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation.

  5. W Khalifa:
    That’s not what anyone is saying. But then that never stopped Faux Noise watcher like you, did it?

  6. B Willis says:

    Go you RED States!!!

  7. John Fembup says:

    Does anyone else think this is peculiar ?

    The Federales say they cannot approve the Mississippi Exchange because Gov Bryant would block it – yet the Federales say they CAN run a Mississippi exchange that Gov Bryant cannot block.

    Just seems strange to me. Especially since both Gov Bryant and Insurance Commissioner Chaney are Democrats.



  8. mandy says:

    Peculiar? Strange? In red states? Not really…

    Happens all the time when you mix money, politics and old white men.

    Only prostitution and used cars runs a distant second to the oldest profession in the world…


  9. david says:

    Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is not a Dem., he’s a Republican .
    Chaney is also Republican

    Obamacare is designed to insure that all citizens, regardless of income or beliefs, have access to quality and affordable care. If the state will not do that, then the federal govt will. If you cannot afford to buy health insurance, you’ll get vouchers for it.

    The idea that all Americans should purchase health insurance so that the rest of us don’t have to pay up when the uninsured get sick has its origins in a 1989 brief (“Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans,”) by the conservative think tank called the Heritage Foundation.