Haslam says no to state health insurance exchange - WSMV Channel 4

Haslam says no to state health insurance exchange

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Gov. Bill Haslam made a single decision Monday that will impact the healthcare of tens of thousands of people across the state.

The governor decided Tennessee will opt out of creating a marketplace for uninsured people to use in order to choose their insurance.

The exchanges, part of the federal healthcare overhaul, create new online markets where consumers will be able to buy individual private health insurance coverage.

Haslam previously said the state likely could run an exchange more efficiently but acknowledged getting legislative approval would be difficult.

Now, Haslam plans to let the federal government set up the portal for Tennesseans, because he does not think it benefits the state to run it.

"I'm more and more convinced that they are making this up as they go," Haslam said. "This is a massive federal program - going to be implemented across millions of individuals. And the amount of information and data that we have about it, or the lack of that, is scary."

The governor's decision came just a few days after tea party supporters rallied near the Capitol wanting the same.

But Democrats fired back after the governor's announcement Monday.

"It is disappointing that our governor found it too difficult to do what 23 other states have begun to do," said Caucus Chairman Mike Turner in a statement. "In the end, if Gov. Haslam was unable to convince his party to reject partisan politics and do the right thing, perhaps it was best for him to allow the federal government to begin setting up an exchange for him."

The governor denied politics played a part.

"To me, this is a business decision," he said.

The federal government will also require states to decide whether they will expand Medicaid.

Haslam addressed the pros and cons in that issue Monday but said he had not made a decision.

He did say that decision could be more complicated than the healthcare exchanges and could take months, and he said the decision on exchanges would not impact his decision on Medicaid.

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