As federal health subsidies survive, Bryant says law is 'socialist takeover of health care'



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JACKSON, Mississippi — Gov. Phil Bryant was among several Mississippi Republicans who criticized the Supreme Court's decision Thursday upholding the tax subsidies that are a key part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

Mississippi is one of 34 states where consumers use the federal health insurance marketplace because the 34 did not create their own state-run exchange after Obama signed the law called the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

"Today's decision does not change the fact that Obamacare is a socialist takeover of health care forced down the throats of the American people without proper review, and it does not slow the massive and unprecedented transfer of wealth that is at the heart of the subsidy system," Bryant said.

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The Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health care expenses and trends, says 75,613 Mississippians stood to lose federal subsidies if the Supreme Court had ruled differently. The average subsidy per enrollee was $351 a month in Mississippi, one of the poorest states in the nation. The subsidy reduces out-of-pocket costs for consumers.

Kaiser projected if the subsidy had disappeared, the premium would have increased an average of 650 percent in Mississippi. That would have been the biggest increase in the U.S.

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Mississippi Health Advocacy Program, a nonprofit group that has helped people enroll in the federal health exchange, called the case "clearly a political one meant to severely damage the law. Fortunately, the Supreme Court saw this for what it was and decided in favor of the millions of Americans who benefit every day from this law."

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Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican, originally worked to create a state-run health exchange, but the Health and Human Services secretary blocked Chaney's proposal after Bryant opposed it.

"Although I may not agree with everything in the Affordable Care Act, it remains the law of the land and I will continue to work within the framework of the law to regulate health insurance for the benefit of all Mississippians," Chaney said Thursday.

He said the ruling means that more than 100,000 Mississippians who purchased health insurance through the marketplace — not all of whom received subsidies — will continue to receive coverage.

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Both of Mississippi's U.S. senators, Republicans Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, said the court ruling does not change their dislike of the Affordable Care Act.

"It remains an expensive and burdensome law that should be repealed and replaced with solutions to make health care more accessible and affordable for Americans," Cochran said.

Wicker said the law remains "unworkable and unaffordable for millions."

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U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the court's decision was a victory for "all Americans who desire to have health insurance and for all those who continue to work so hard to make health care for all Americans a right and not a privilege."

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U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., said the ruling was disappointing.

"This ill-conceived and poorly written law has been patched together by an administration more concerned with saving face than providing quality health care for all Americans," he said.


State House Democratic leader Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto said if Republicans had joined Democrats in supporting a state-run exchange, "Mississippians would have never been at risk of losing their insurance due to the doubling of premium costs."

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