Insurance commissioner gets in heated exchange over health care - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Insurance commissioner gets in heated exchange over health care

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

There was a heated exchange Thursday afternoon between Mississippi Insurance Commissioner, Mike Chaney and director of health policy studies at the CATO Institute, Michael Cannon.

It happened after Cannon publicly slammed states for moving forward with a state insurance exchange program, which is required by the Affordable Care Act, recently upheld by the Supreme Court.

Cannon says Mississippi should not set up an exchange nor should the state expand the Medicaid program. It's those two issues causing a lot of debate.

"These two elements of the law are going to increase to cost of health insurance, they're going to increase the cost of government, they're going to throw people out of their current health insurance and they're going to make it harder for sick people to have access to care," said Cannon.

Chaney says he agrees that Obamacare needs to be repealed and hopes the exchange won't be needed if presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wins the White House.

"If we don't pull the plug before the election, we'll make a decision after the election, the presidential election in November, as to whether or not to move forward with the exchange," said Chaney.

Meanwhile, director of the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, Ed Sivak, says the state needs to act on both elements. Sivak says last year Medicaid spending was responsible for $2 billion in income.

"Sitting back and doing nothing is not a viable option in Mississippi. We stand to lose millions of dollars over the next several years to provide coverage for the uninsured. For some of our rural hospitals, that's the difference of staying in business or going out of business," said Sivak.

As the debate rages on, Cannon says Mississippi needs to join other states in resisting the law.

"If states refuse to create exchanges or refuse to expand their Medicaid programs, it exposes the cost of this law in a way that will force Congress to reopen it and repeal it," said Cannon. 

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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