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BOBBY HARRISON: What happens to 61,500 in state if ACA is repealed?



If all those people who signed up for health insurance on the exchange offered through the Affordable Care Act , or Obamacare as it is known, lived in one Mississippi city, it would be the state’s third largest municipality. If they all lived in one county, it would be the 13th largest in Mississippi. In Mississippi, 60,000 people are a lot of people. Nationwide more than 8 million have signed up, according to federal officials.Almost 61,500 Mississippians have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, according to the numbers released last week by federal officials.

It is no small feat that 60,000 people went through the trouble to log onto the health care web site and go through the multi-step process to garner insurance when the state’s political leadership, led by the governor on down, was urging people not to participate in that debacle known as Obamacare.

Participation, could lead to death panels, street urchins and a loss of freedom. Some politicians have equated the Affordable Care Act to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, Thad Cochran and U.S. Reps. Alan Nunnelee, Gregg Harper and Steven Palazzo all want to repeal it.

Are they saying getting insurance through the exchange is a bad thing?

People garnering insurance through the Affordable Care Act include those who previously could not get insurance because of a pre-existing condition. It includes working people who could not previously afford insurance, but can now because of the federal subsidies offered as part of the Affordable Care Act.

There are people who have court cases pending trying to block the operation of the exchange in places like Mississippi. The law allows states to establish their own exchanges. But in states that do not have their own exchange, people wanting to purchase health insurance can go to the federally operated exchange.

People in Mississippi have to go through the federal exchange because the governor, along with others, said he did not want his state to have anything to do with promoting or encouraging the Affordable Care Act.

There are lawsuits that claim the law and the intent of Congress was for federal subsidies to be provided to help purchase health insurance only on state-run exchanges.

In other words, in states like Mississippi, if the lawsuit is successful, a person could not receive a subsidy to purchase health insurance because there is no state-run exchange. On the other hand, people in say, California, New York or Kentucky could receive a subsidy to help purchase health insurance because their states run their own exchanges.

A disallowance of subsidies in Mississippi would be particularly difficult because studies reveal that health insurance in general costs more in this state.

According to the most recent Gallup survey, the rate of uninsured adults has dropped to 13.4 percent – the lowest since Gallup starting doing the survey in 2008. Many reasonable people would concede that the ACA played a role in the decrease in the percentage of the uninsured in America.

Separate studies indicate that the uninsured rate has dropped more in states that have established their own exchanges for people to purchase private insurance and opted into a Medicaid expansion allowed under the ACA to provide health care coverage to the working poor.

The question is, if the lawsuit prevails, would it lead to more uninsured in states like Mississippi because many working people could not afford to purchase health insurance without a federal subsidy?

Or if Wicker, Cochran, Nunnelee and other members of Mississippi’s congressional delegation are successful in repeal efforts, would it mean that those 60,000 Mississippians would lose their health insurance?

Bobby Harrison can be reached at (662) 946-9931 or bobby.harrison@journalinc.com.

About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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