Haslam’s Insure Tennessee Plan Fails in Legislature

Governor Bill Haslam. (Photo courtesy tn.gov)

Governor Bill Haslam’s proposal to extend healthcare coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans failed during a special legislative session on Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate Health Committee defeated the Republican governor’s Insure Tennessee plan on a 7-4 vote.

The Tennessee General Assembly met early Wednesday afternoon to decide whether or not to approve Insure Tennessee, the Obamacare alternative proposed by Governor Bill Haslam in December.

Haslam said that Tennessee would not be expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2012. Insure Tennessee promised to address conservative qualms about the Obamacare system while still allowing the state to reap the benefits of ACA-related taxes the state has been paying.

A presentation on the plan released on the Tennessee Government website boasted that it would “promote personal responsibility” and create no new taxes.

The plan would have covered individuals below 138 percent of the poverty line, like Obamacare, but would have allowed them to choose to receive that healthcare in the form of a TennCare program, or a voucher of equal value to be used for expenses associated with a healthcare provider in the private market. That TennCare program would be called Healthy Incentives for Tennesseans, a system of rewards for “performing healthy behaviors.”

All HIT enrollees, even those below the poverty line, would still have paid “modest pharmacy copays.”

With the plan’s failure in the Senate, it appeared unlikely that the House would move forward with its version of the proposal.

However, House Speaker Beth Harwell said Tuesday that she has offered to have her committee chairmen draw up alternate suggestions for Haslam should his plan appear to be headed for defeat.

Meagan White contributed to this report.

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To contact news editor Meagan White, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com 

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