By The Enterprise-Journal, McComb, Miss.
McCOMB, Miss. —
What does Phil Bryant not understand about elections? The Republican Mississippi governor seems to have completely missed the fact that Barack Obama was re-elected in November. That means the Affordable Care Act is going to be the law of the land for at least the next four years and, most likely, perpetually.
Bryant is waging a senseless and counterproductive battle to keep Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a fellow Republican, from implementing a state-run health insurance exchange in Mississippi.
Health exchanges — which are nothing more than an online marketplace where consumers will be able to theoretically shop for the best deals on health insurance — are going to be a fact of life by January 2014. They are mandated under Obamacare.
The question is only over who is going to run them: the state, the federal government or a partnership of the two.
Chaney has rightfully argued from the start that it would be better for the state to run its own health exchange so it would have more control over its terms. At least four Republican governors elsewhere have come to the same conclusion, but not Mississippi’s Bryant. He has joined with the majority of GOP?governors in an act of defiance that is more about politics than good policy.
Bryant has undermined the work of Chaney, who was ahead of the curve in lining up Mississippi to run its own exchange. The governor has written a pair of letters to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, challenging Chaney’s authority to proceed with creating the health exchange.
Bryant argues that only the governor can act on behalf of the state — an assertion that not only Chaney challenges but which has been rejected in the past. (Anyone remember former Gov. Kirk Fordice’s unsuccessful effort to stop Attorney General Mike Moore from suing the tobacco industry in the 1990s?) In response to Bryant’s opposition, the federal government has put Chaney’s submission for approval on hold to see whether Mississippi can work out its internal differences.
Bryant should back off.
He says he distrusts the federal government. He says he thinks a state-run health exchange is the “gateway” for Obamacare to take hold in Mississippi.
Obamacare is coming to Mississippi whether Bryant likes it or not. Some of its provisions are already in effect, and more are on their way.
What the governor is doing is making sure that there will be more federal oversight in how Obamacare is implemented here, not less.