Will He or Won’t He?

Governor Bill Haslam did the right and smart thing last year when he rejected the fed’s deal for an expansion of Medicaid in Tennessee. Will he do the right thing this year?

State Senator Brian Kelsey writes he was “Glad to hear Gov. Haslam say it ‘would be a stretch’ to propose ObamaCare Medicaid expansion by Jan. 1!” He cites this article at knoxblogs.com/humphreyhill:

Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday he is disappointed that apparently only about 300 Tennesseans have been enrolled through the troubled federal health care insurance exchange and that it’s “hard to know” whether he made a mistake by not setting up a state-operated program instead.

Asked about the number of Tennesseans enrolled, Haslam said that “last time I heard, the most verifiable number was something in the low hundreds, like 250, 300…. Obviously, that’s been disappointing to everybody.”

The governor said state Department of Commerce and Insurance officials have been trying to monitor federal exchange operations in Tennessee, but “like everybody else” have encountered problems with the federal website.

Earlier this year, Haslam opted to leave the operation of the exchange within Tennessee to the federal government. Some states operating their own exchange, including Kentucky, have reported far better success in enrollment than the federal exchange. But Haslam said state exchange success elsewhere has been “all over the map” and declined to say whether Tennessee would have been better off with a state exchange.

“We felt like it was thir program, they re the ones who suggested it and it would be better in this initial stage if they ran it – the thought being, at the time, that having that two cooks in the kitchen when you’re trying to put together something that complex would make it that much more difficult,” he said.

Haslam said the problems with the health care exchange website in Washington have also “complicated” continuing efforts by his administration to negotiate an expansion of Medicaid in Tennessee, as authorized but not required by the Affordable Care Act. The federal officials involved “are engaged elsewhere, trying to get the system to work,” he said.

Asked if it is now practically impossible to have Tennessee ready for Medicaid expansion in any form when the law takes effect Jan. 1, Haslam acknowledged “that would be a stretch.” But he added:

“I’m not going to project a date when something may or may not happen….We’re continuing discussions.”

The government likes to dangle money in front of the states to get its heinous programs done. Later we are stuck with picking it up at tremendous cost. Let’s not fall for that one!

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