For lawmakers, Jan. 1, 2014, is a monumental date looming in the ever-nearing future. That date is when the majority of the measures under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as many Mississippians refer to it, will take effect.
Among other things, this date marks the deadline for state lawmakers to come up with their own health insurance exchange programs and have them certified and operational, or the federal government will step in and run the show. These exchanges are to be an online marketplace offering a variety of government and other standardized health care plans, from which individuals must choose.
Mississippi Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney has been charged with the task of creating an exchange for Mississippi. He has been greeted with opposition on all fronts, especially from Gov. Phil Bryant.
Opponents are not against Chaney’s exchange program plans for want of a better or different option; they are opposed to it fundamentally and in its entirety.
They oppose “Obamacare” and will not agree to anything that is remotely linked to it. Bryant and other lawmakers have spoken out against Chaney and his work on creating an exchange for Mississippi, labeling him a “no-good socialist Obama sympathizer,” as one Clarion-Ledger columnist wrote.
The bitter fighting and opposition is only hurting Mississippi. The Affordable Care Act has been passed by Congress and ruled as constitutional by the Supreme Court.
Until it gets repealed, it must be followed. Trying to oppose it goes beyond putting the government in a stalemate; it also hurts Mississippians. If the lawmakers continue to oppose Chaney, then the federal government will have to step in with a plan of its own.
An exchange will be in effect Jan. 1, 2014, whether Bryant or other lawmakers want it or not. Surely, an exchange plan made by Mississippi lawmakers would be much more beneficial and would address Mississippi’s needs better.
It’s time to put aside the partisan bickering, accept that “Obamacare” is here and unavoidable, and buckle down and come to a solution on the task that we have been given.
Anna Rush is a second-year law student from Hattiesburg. She graduated from Mississippi State University in 2011. Follow her on Twitter @annakrush.