Reporting Live From Legislative Plaza (Nashville, TN):
In less than 8 hrs since it was reported this morning that Tennessee Governor Haslam would not accept the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare things have swiftly changed. Haslam made his announcement this morning at 9:35 AM, which misled the people of Tennessee and the media to report that Tennessee would not participate in the Medicaid expansion. However, he shortly there after released a “new plan“, which the media did not report on. This new plan actually sneaks the expansion in through the back door. The Tennessee plan will “leverage available federal dollars to purchase private health insurance for Tennesseans up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level who don’t have access to health insurance, which would translate to
175,000 more insured Tennesseans.” This is essentially a copycat from the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. It uses the 100% federal reimbursement for three years under the disguise of “leveraging.” It is a carbon copy of the President’s health care law to provide health insurance for everyone—paid for by taxpayers– below 138% of the federal poverty level. One will be hard pressed to find the difference between Haslam’s “new plan” and the old plan. Legislators say they had a feeling the Governor would attempt this maneuver and to safeguard against it they crafted SB0804 (State Senator Kelsey-R) and HB0937 (State Representative Durham-R). The Governor has consistently requested that these bills be delayed for a vote and be kept out of committee. These bills were finally allowed up for a vote in committee today, but only after the Governor made his announcement that the state would “not accept the Medicaid expansion”. If they had passed without amendments it would have legally banned the state from accepting the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. However, it seems that the Governor had a hand in having the legislation amended and watered down. State Senator Mark Green amended the Senate version of the bill so that the Governor could still sneak in the expansion. The bill passed committee 7-2. The Tennessee Governor is attempting to pull a fast one on his constituents by telling the media Tennessee will not accept the expansion when in reality he has just changed the name of the expansion to something different. When state Senator Kelsey was asked what the forecast looked like for the House version of the bill he stated, “These legislators are spineless & don’t want to vote. Especially in the House. The whole thing is turning into a sideshow.” The bills have been amended and rolled to the next calendar year for a full vote. Senator Kelsey and Representative Durham have led the charge along with the help of grassroots organizers to block Obamacare in the state of Tennessee. Haslam’s plan mirrors that of the Governors of Florida and Arkansas, which are so unpopular that state legislators are challenging their Governors there as well.