The federal government will run exchanges for states that refuse to do so, or that can’t meet federal deadlines to be ready by 2014. A third option gives states until February to decide if they want to share responsibility with Washington for an exchange.
The options are forcing GOP officials across the country to decide whether to go against the party’s traditional belief in states’ rights, and let the federal government step in—or to run their own exchange and risk signaling that they’re enabling a law they don’t support.
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican, wrote to federal regulators Wednesday to confirm that he planned to set up a state exchange. Within hours, he was criticized by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who called Mr. Chaney’s decision “a gateway to full implementation of Obamacare in Mississippi.” Aides said Mr. Bryant was still considering his options in trying to overturn the commissioner’s move.
Mr. Chaney said in an interview that he had long believed Mississippi would be better off running its own exchange. “The day you quit you give the keys to your health operations to the federal government,” he said. To him, governors who let Washington run exchanges for them “are embracing Obamacare a lot more than we are.”