GOP standoff over health insurance exchange - - Jackson, MS

GOP standoff over health insurance exchange

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi's insurance commissioner has sent Gov. Phil Bryant a letter criticizing the governor for trying to block a state-run health insurance exchange the commissioner proposes.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter Friday. In it, Commissioner Mike Chaney says Bryant is handing control of a health exchange to the federal government - the opposite of what Bryant says he wants.

Bryant and Chaney are at odds over who has the power to implement a state health insurance exchange program, and it's catching national media attention.

Exchanges are online marketplaces where people can buy insurance. Under the health law President Barack Obama signed, every state must have an exchange so people can get coverage starting in January 2014. States that don't create their own will have one run by Washington.

The standoff centers around who has the ultimate power to propose the program to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Chaney submitted his proposal in November. However, in a Dec. 28 letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Phil Bryant wrote, "the Mississippi Insurance Department lacks authority to establish a health care exchange over his objection."

Neither would agree to an interview Friday.

Our "Red- Blue Review" political team weighed in on the debate.

"I think ultimately H-H-S is going to want this to happen they are trying to figure out how it will come down at the federal level in my mind," Andy Taggart, a well known Republican observer said Friday.

Jere Nash, a highly regarded democratic observer had this reaction: "You have to wonder why the Obama administration is allowing this to happen. They would like for states to run these exchanges. They got a public officials willing to do it. Why not give him the full force and authority of there office. I wish they would just stand behind Commissioner Chaney."

According to the Wall Street Journal, federal officials are holding off on making any decision on a proposal by Mississippi to run its own exchange because of disagreements between republican lawmakers.

Commissioner Chaney told us Friday he's weighing his options and the decision that will have to be made affecting three million Mississippians, adding, he has not thrown in the towel at this time.

Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.

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