Affordable Care Act spark dispute in Mississippi

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant Affordable Care Act
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Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant Affordable Care ActMississippi officials clash over provision of Affordable Care Act

Mississippi is one of the states opposed to the Affordable Care Act. Since the law was passed in 2010, the state has been working to derail health care reform. Now, the state is embroiled in a dispute that has actually slowed the implementation of the law in a significant way, threatening to put the law off its carefully scheduled timeline. Governor Phil Bryant and Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney are behind the dispute.

Governor and Insurance Commissioner not seeing eye-to-eye

While both parties are outspoken opponents of the Affordable Care Act, the dispute may actually be between the Governor and the Insurance Commissioner, rather than with the federal government. The dispute involved one of the provisions of the federal health care law, which requires states to host a health insurance exchange. According to the law, states have the option to not build or operate an exchange themselves, which would relinquish control of the endeavor to the federal government. Thus far, this is the option that Mississippi Governor Bryant has supported.

Commissioner champions state-run health insurance exchange

Insurance Commissioner Chaney suggests that the state would be better off running its own health insurance exchange, despite its connection to the Affordable Care Act. Building an exchange will give Mississippi the opportunity to govern the system itself, rather than allow the federal government to introduce highly generalized standards that may not be suited to the state’s needs. Chaney notes that a state-run exchange would be able to resists federal “intrusion,” allowing the state to ensure that the exchange system is working in the best interest of its citizens.

Dispute blocks action of Affordable Care Act

The dispute has reached a point where any action regarding the Affordable Care Act in the state has stagnated. If the dispute continues to grow, it may impact the enactment of the federal health care law as a whole. The state is required to have a health insurance exchange in place by 2014, whether it is run by Mississippi or the federal government. Governor Bryant has not yet shown signs of reaching a compromise on the issue.

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