Lawmakers will convene a special session today to take up Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans.
The proposal is simple, but the politics are not.
Haslam’s plan is a two-year pilot project called Insure Tennessee. The deal calls on state hospitals to pay the $74 million state share to draw down $2.8 billion dollars in federal Medicaid money to offer coverage to more uninsured Tennesseans.
But many fellow Republicans in the Legislature are dubious about Haslam’s plan because it relies on funds available under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“This is absolutely Obamacare,” said Rep. Jeremy Durham, R- Franklin. “We’re increasing entitlements using money appropriated by the Medicaid expansion provisions of Obamacare to do what we’re talking about today”
Haslam spent the weeks before the special session touring the state to promote his plan to lawmakers. He was scheduled to do so again in a joint address to the House and Senate on Monday evening.
Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of the plan have released lists of prominent Republicans’ views on the matter.
A coalition supporting the plan last week released a list of 104 prominent Republicans around the state, including current and former county party chairs. Durham and state Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, on Monday countered with a list of 20 county Republican chairs, including two who had previously been listed as supporters.
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