Q&A about Miss. plans in federal health overhaul

January 29, 2013 8:03:23 AM

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Q: How many people are uninsured in Mississippi and how many of those are projected to get insurance under the exchange? 

 

A: The state has about 530,000 residents under the age of 65 who are uninsured, according to a study the Urban Institute conducted for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. That's 21 percent of the state's nonelderly residents who lack insurance. The state Department of Insurance says it does not know how many might seek coverage under an exchange. 

 

Mississippi's population is about 3 million, including 2.5 million under 65. 

 

Q: How many people in Mississippi are now served by Medicaid and how many more will be served if it chooses the Medicaid expansion? 

 

A: The Division of Medicaid says 641,378 were enrolled in the program in December. Rachel L. Garfield, senior researcher and associate director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, said about 288,000 additional people could be expected to enroll in Mississippi's Medicaid program between 2014 and 2022 if the state opts for expansion. 

 

Garfield said another 57,000 who are currently eligible for Medicaid could choose to enroll, partly because of increased awareness about the program's availability. However, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and Republican leaders in the state House and Senate oppose Medicaid expansion, saying it would be expensive and they don't want to increase an individual's dependence on government. Bryant also cites higher potential enrollment under an expansion, based on information from Milliman, a research firm the state hired. 

 

Q: How is the exchange going to be set up in Mississippi and which agency will be responsible for overseeing it? 

 

A: That is unclear. The state Department of Insurance wrote a proposal for an exchange, and Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney submitted it to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for approval. Because Gov. Phil Bryant objects to a state-run exchange, HHS has not acted on Chaney's proposal. The proposal remains in limbo. 

 

Q: How far along is Mississippi in setting up an exchange and do officials believe one will be ready to start enrolling people by the October deadline? 

 

A: Mississippi was among the first states to submit an exchange proposal to the federal government, but the plan remains in limbo. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has neither approved nor blocked the plan. HHS says has not acted because there is a split between Bryant, who opposes a state-run exchange, and Republican Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who wants a state-run exchange. 

 

Q: How much money has Mississippi received so far from the federal government to do initial work in setting up an exchange? 

 

A: The state Department of Insurance says it has received $20 million from the federal government and has spent $4.5 million of that to develop a proposal for an exchange. 

 

Q: How will residents in Mississippi access the exchange? 

 

A: The website is onemississippi.com/index.php .