TN Democrats demanding for Republicans to expand healthcare - WSMV News 4

TN Democrats demanding for Republicans to expand affordable healthcare

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Tennessee Democrats are demanding that Republicans "stop blocking access" to affordable healthcare.

Democrats held a rally Tuesday morning ahead of the official start of the 2018 legislative session. 

Democrats argue that Republicans have continuously rejected Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal since it was introduced in 2015.

"It's the biggest barrier to Tennesseans leading good, effective lives," said Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart. "We have Tennessee families, if they lived in Kentucky, they'd have access to affordable healthcare. The Democrats want to provide the same benefits to Tennessee families, and I think the Republicans are hopefully going to come around this session."

Stewart said he is more confident about successfully expanding affordable healthcare than he has been in a long time.

Not all Republicans are on board with the affordable healthcare proposal, including Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada.

"As Tennessee Republicans and conservatives, we vote what's best for Tennessee. We're not worried about national politic, national debate. We're not worried about party platforms. What is good for Tennessee? Implementing something that drives up the monthly cost and drives up the delivery, the cost of delivery of healthcare is not good for Tennessee, and so we're going to oppose it," Casada said.

Casada said fighting the opioid epidemic will be his number one priority this legislative session. Tennessee saw a record number of drug overdose deaths in 2016 when more than 1,600 people died. That number was up 12 percent from 2015.

 Other lawmakers hope to also tackle the issue of seat belts on school buses, corporal punishment policies and short-term rentals.

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