Watson, Brooks support Haslam’s insurance exchange decision
by By DAVID DAVIS Managing Editor
Dec 16, 2012 | 827 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Both state representatives from Cleveland recently gave their support to the governor for his decision not to implement a state-run insurance exchange in Tennessee.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Dec. 10 that the state will not operate a state-based healthcare exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act because he believes it will harm small businesses and be costly for state governments and the federal government.

“It does nothing to address the cost of health care in our country. It only expands a broken system,” he said. “That’s why I’ve opposed it from the beginning and had hoped we would be successful in court and at the ballot box this year.”

Brooks described the governor’s decision as "courageous and correct. Although we would never choose to cede our states rights to the federal government on this exchange, there are far too many unanswered questions and pitfalls to move forward for Tennessee."

Watson said 800-plus pages of draft rules from the federal government received since the election actually limit state decisions about running an exchange more than was expected.

Brooks said, “After all the research and dialogue with Washington, Gov. Haslam reached the conclusion many of us expected: Tennessee will not be creating any exchange associated with ObamaCare. I appreciate the governor’s diligence on this matter and the fact he has stood up for our principles once again.

“Tennessee now stands firmly on the side of states that believe Washington has created a colossal mistake that will either collapse under its own weight or fail to get off the ground because of its expense. Either way, history will show Tennessee made the right decision.”

Haslam said in his statement that “if conditions warrant in the future and it makes sense at a later date for Tennessee to run the exchange, we would consider that as an option at the appropriate time.

A poll released Wednesday by Vanderbilt University indicated a majority of Tennesseans prefer a state-run health insurance exchange over one run by the federal government.

The poll of 829 registered voters showed 53 percent favor the state-run marketplace, while 33 percent prefer the federal approach. Seventy-two percent of Republicans surveyed said they support the state-based approach to the exchanges required under the federal health care law, compared with 31 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents.

According The Associated Press reported 19 states have turned down the Obama administration's invitation to run the new health insurance markets that will begin serving millions of uninsured Americans less than a year from now. That puts a huge task on the feds, a defining challenge for President Barack Obama's second term.

Drafters of the law did not anticipate that so many states would remain on the sidelines at this late stage, according to the wire service story. All of the states refusing are led by Republicans.

On the other side of the ledger, 17 states and Washington, D.C., want to set up and run their own markets. The administration has already started granting approvals. Eight other states have indicated they want to pursue a partnership with Washington, and more may do so. Only six remained undecided.