JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant, R, said Thursday that the state is giving $1 million to a federal contractor that will be helping to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
The Mississippi Development Authority will be providing the money through economic development incentive payments to General Dynamics Corp.
General Dynamics said it will hire 1,000 Mississippians to run a new PPACA health insurance exchange call center in Hattiesburg, Miss. The workers are supposed to answer questions from consumers and others about the exchanges.
Bryant made the announcement in Hattiesburg without mentioning the tie to PPACA.
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Bryant torpedoed an attempt by state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a fellow Republican, to set up a state-run PPACA exchange, saying any entanglement risked giving the federal government a back-door way to force the state to expand its Medicaid program.
Because Mississippi is not setting up its own exchange, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be responsible for providing exchange services for Mississippi residents through a “federally facilitated exchange” (FFE).
Mississippi officials who oppose PPACA typically refer to it as “Obamacare.”
“No, the state is most certainly not aiding in the implementation of Obamacare,” Bryant spokesman Mick Bullock wrote in an email. “The employees who will hold the new jobs at this facility will answer questions on a range of programs coordinated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Some questions may come from residents in the multiple states in this country that, like Mississippi, have declined to implement the insurance exchanges mandated by Obamacare.”
Chaney said he welcomed General Dynamics’ expansion.
HHS officials said the new call center will be part of an around-the-clock, seven-days-a-week operation that will include up to 14 call centers around the country.
Vangent, a unit of General Dynamics, has a $530 million contract with HHS.