Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says 104,000 people statewide signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act on the federal exchange. Many receive subsidies.
"Ninety-seven-thousand of the people that bought on the federal exchange in 2015 received a subsidy. It covers the whole gamut. Everybody that works in public, private sector and those that volunteer their services that are retired." said Chaney.
Chaney estimates about 150,000 have coverage when children are counted. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on a challenge to subsidies by the end of this month. In March, plaintiffs in the King versus Burwell case argued that the wording of the law says exchanges must be "established by the state" to receive subsidies. Mississippi is among 27 states that rely on federal exchanges. The Obama Administration contends the intent is to include all states. If the justices side with the plaintiff, Mississippians will lose the subsidy. Theresa Hanna is with the Center for Mississippi Health Policy.
"We calculated out what that meant to the state and it's over $318 million annualized in terms of subsidy amounts coming to Mississippi." said Hanna.
Chaney says his options are limited. "We would operate a state-based exchange through our high risk pool, if the federal government would approve the operation of the exchange." said Chaney.
Chaney says premiums would be 40% higher, without it they could double. Also he would offer telemedicine benefits to the state's 16,000 first responders and volunteer firefighters. Governor Phil Bryant has said he will not support creating a state-based exchange.