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Survey results show divide over health insurance exchange

JACKSON — The Mississippi Health Advocacy Program (MHAP) says a survey has found that 51 percent of Mississippi consumers have positive views of a health insurance exchange and over 62 percent believe that the resulting expansion of private insurance would lead to economic growth.

“Mississippi truly has unique challenges when it comes to health care. Our polling shows that Mississippi consumers want our exchange to be operated by fellow Mississippians who understand the cultural and economic issues of our state,” said Roy Mitchell, director of the non-profit MHAP.

Forty-seven percent of respondents labeled the “complexity of health insurance” as the most challenging issue associated with implementing an insurance exchange.

In the fall of 2012 MHAP partnered with the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University to gauge Mississippians’ opinion on health care and a Mississippi health insurance exchange. The Social Science Research Center completed a total of 1,600 telephone surveys of Mississippi residents. These interviews were completed with adult respondents (age 18 or older) residing in Lee, Hinds, Harrison and Washington counties.

In a related item, State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says he expects federal regulators will announce a decision on Mississippi’s health exchange within 10 to 15 days.

Chaney restated his support for the exchange today before members of the Mississippi Economic Council, which was holding its Capital Day meeting in Jackson. On the front row of the audience was Gov. Phil Bryant, whose opposition led federal officials to question whether Mississippi’s proposal should go ahead.

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.

Bryant contends Chaney doesn’t have the authority to run an exchange without the governor’s support.

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