APNewsBreak: Miss. sends insurance plan to feds

APNewsBreak: Miss. insurance commissioner sends exchange plan to federal government

Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has submitted the state's plan for an insurance exchange to the federal government.

Department spokesman Joseph Ammerman said Chaney sent the plan Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Chaney has steadily worked toward the creation of the online marketplace for people to buy insurance despite pressure from Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and others to abandon the plan. A spokesman for Bryant said the governor would comment later Wednesday.

States faced a Friday deadline to send in their plans, or otherwise the federal government would set up exchanges for each state.

Chaney says he's no fan of the new federal health care law, but says Mississippi would be better off controlling its own exchange. Opponents say the state won't have enough freedom and Mississippi should have no association with a law they find odious.

Mississippi's exchange was designed after months of meetings with an advisory board of health care leaders and citizens. At times, tea party opponents appeared in force at such sessions to protest, but Chaney hasn't been swayed.

Former Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, unlike Bryant, favored the concept of an exchange. Legislation to establish an exchange failed, but Chaney said he had legal authority to go ahead even without the law.

The Insurance Department has received more than $20 million in federal money to develop the exchange. The marketplace will be operated by the Mississippi Comprehensive Health Insurance Risk Pool, which will contract with outside groups for most services. The risk pool group was established in 1992 to help people with pre-existing conditions find health coverage.

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Associated Press Writer Emily Wagster Pettus contributed to this report.

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