Gov. Haslam's Insure Tennessee plan fails - WSMV News 4

Gov. Haslam's Insure Tennessee plan fails

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Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee plan was defeated in a crucial vote Wednesday.

A Senate health committee voted 7-4 against the measure in a special session.

The governor's plan would have provided health insurance to more than 280,000 uninsured Tennesseans. Wednesday's vote effectively killed the proposal.

Several senators on the committee said they lacked information about Insure Tennessee.

"There are the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns, and there are a lot of unknown unknowns," said Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, who quoted an expert who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

Haslam said he was disappointed with the results. He spent nearly two years trying to strike this expansion plan with the federal government.

"We worked 21 months to do exactly what the legislature asked us to do, come up with a health care plan for hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans," he said.

The governor said he wants to move forward with health care reform, but after Wednesday's decision, he said he just doesn't know how.

"We are open to the idea of bringing this up in regular session...but 30 minutes after the vote, it's hard to see what that look likes," Haslam said.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey issued the following statement regarding the vote:

"Governor Haslam's hard work and passion on Insure Tennessee has been made clear this week. While many questions have been answered during this special session, several questions remain unanswered. Ultimately, the absence of a clear, written agreement between the federal government and the State of Tennessee made passage impossible. Tennessee has always been a well-run, fiscally-responsible state. We could not in good conscience put our stamp of approval on a mere verbal agreement with the Obama administration."

Congressman Jim Cooper, D-TN, questioned the state's leadership following the vote.

"Tennesseans will die and hospitals will close as a result of our cruel state legislature. Rarely in state history have we seen such devastating lack of leadership," Cooper said in a statement.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, called the vote a "significant victory for Tennessee taxpayers."

"The legislature proved that Tennessee has learned from our past mistakes with entitlement programs by rejecting Obamacare expansion and refusing to risk our state's financial stability," Durham added.

The vote marks a victory for conservatives. Many believed the plan was no different than 'Obamacare'. The two-year pilot program would have used federal funding made available through the Affordable Care Act.

The Tennessee Justice Center also spoke out on the vote. The issued a statement saying, in part, "It is extremely disappointing that seven members blocked Gov. Haslam's plan from being considered by the full legislature. A handful of votes leaves more than 280,000 Tennesseans without access to health care."

In a news conference, members of the Democratic Caucus lamented the death of a plan they said would have helped their constituents and boosted their local economies.

"The Republicans in the legislature spit in the eye of their own governor," said Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville. "This is the worst public policy disaster that I can remember in a decade."

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