Monday, December 10 2012, 04:04 PM EST
Gov. Haslam Turns Down Federal Healthcare Exchange
Gov. Bill Haslam says Tennessee will not create a state-run health insurance exchange, but the Republican governor says he remains undecided about whether to expand Medicaid.
Haslam said the lack of information from the federal government about the insurance marketplaces was "scary" and that that he considered it a business decision to let the federal government run the program.
Haslam acknowledged that getting a state-run exchange approved by the Legislature would be a difficult prospect.
Many Republican lawmakers ran for office on a platform of opposing President Barack Obama's health care plan. Tea party supporters protested the idea of a state-run exchange outside the Capitol last week, deriding it as "Haslamcare."
The governor said a decision on Medicaid expansion may not come until after the Legislature adjourns this spring.
GOVERNOR'S NEWS RELEASE
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday the state will not operate a state-based healthcare exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act. Haslam made the following statement on the issue:
“Tennessee faces a decision this week about health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m not a fan of the law. The more I know, the more harmful I think it will be for small businesses and costly for state governments and the federal government. It does nothing to address the cost of health care in our country. It only expands a broken system. That’s why I’ve opposed it from the beginning and had hoped we would be successful in court and at the ballot box this year.
“Now we’re faced with the fact that the law remains, and it requires every state to participate in an insurance exchange. Our decision is whether the state or federal government should run it, and the deadline for that decision is Friday.
“I’ve said that I think Tennessee could run a state exchange cheaper and better, and my natural inclination is to keep the federal government out of our business as much as possible. What our administration has been working to understand is whether we’d have the flexibility for it to be a true state-based exchange, how the data exchange would work, and if it would work.
“Since the presidential election, we’ve received 800-plus pages of draft rules from the federal government, some of which actually limit state decisions about running an exchange more than we expected.
“The Obama administration has set an aggressive timeline to implement exchanges, while there is still a lot of uncertainty about how the process will actually work. What has concerned me more and more is that they seem to be making this up as they go.
“In weighing all of the information we currently have, I informed the federal government today that Tennessee will not run a state-based exchange. If conditions warrant in the future and it makes sense at a later date for Tennessee to run the exchange, we would consider that as an option at the appropriate time.
“This decision comes after months of consideration and analysis. It is a business decision based on what is best for Tennesseans with the information we have now that we’ve pressed hard to receive from Washington. If this were a political decision, it would’ve been easy, and I would’ve made it a long time ago.
“I believe my job is to get to the right answer. That’s what Tennesseans expect of me and elected me to do.”