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Expert weighs in on state health care reform

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As lawmakers search for as much information as possible on the impacts of the Affordable Care Act, Ed Haislmaier, a research fellow, with the conservative D.C. based Heritage Foundation, went before a group of them outlining what he believes will happen.

He says Republican leaders are right in rejecting Medicaid expansion and when it comes to a state run health insurance exchange, he says there's no advantage for the state to do it.

"Both of those are situations where the state would be taking on significant and in many cases undefined or uncertain obligations without clarity as to how they're going to do them," said Haislmaier.

This comes as Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney and Governor Phil Bryant, both republicans, are at odds over the entire deal. Chaney is moving forward with setting up the exchange while Bryant is opposing it. Chaney told a large group of state and business leaders not setting it up would forfeit the state's right to regulate health insurance. Bryant says it'll be an undue burden.

"Tax businesses destroy jobs and that's what I believe a state exchange will do," said Bryant.

With the federal government offering to pay for much of a Medicaid expansion in the state, some lawmakers say it's an opportunity the state needs to act on.

"We cannot leave $10 billion on the table. It's bad economically and it's bad for the health and the welfare of the citizens," said Representative George Flaggs a democrat from Vicksburg.

While the money is an enticement, Haislmaier says by the time the state is ready to cash in, the money may be gone.

"We have a federal budget problem. There's nothing that guarantees, for example, the extra Medicaid money for the extra expansion will be there in five years," said Haislmaier.

By law, the state must have an exchange in place by 2014 or the federal government will come in and set one up.

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