Yesterday it was reported that Tennessee had decided not to set up health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. Instead, we will leave it up to the federal government to set it up as Rep. Mark White had indicated at last week’s Midtown Republican Club meeting.
Today on Fox News Governor Bill Haslam appeared and clarified why it was rejected. He told Fox’s Rick Fulbaum:
“We started with a premise that anything we can run we can run better than the federal government can. We think we can do it faster, better, cheaper than they can but in the end they couldn’t answer our questions. To go into something that is that vast of an enterprise and to have so many things unanswered. We’ve actually gotten 820 pages of rules in the last two or three weeks from them still in draft form for something that they’ve known was in the works for two years. So it just felt like to us they weren’t organized well enough for us to do this with.”
Fulbaum asked: “You are the chief executive of the state of Tennessee. Governors like to have as much control as they can and here you are practically ceding a lot of control when it comes to the health care of the people of your great state to the federal government. Any problems with that?”
Haslam: “I have a lot of problems with that but the decision on the exchange really wasn’t going to make a big difference there one way or the other. Our fear, once we got into it, was the state exchange didn’t give us a lot more flexibility or latitude than running with them would or letting them run it would. In exchange for that we were entering into this partnership with them that they wouldn’t define for us. So I have issues with how the health care plan works out, how much decision making it takes out of not just state hands but individuals’ hands. I have a major concern. I just don’t think the state based exchange was going to solve that problem.
“Our job now is to implement. Like I said I don’t like the law. I wish it hadn’t been passed. I wish the Supreme Court had overturned it and I wish we had had a different election in November but we didn’t. And so we have to deal with the reality. There are going to be exchanges in every state. The question is whether we run them or whether we have the federal government run them but as the chief executive of the state I didn’t feel good about going into this relationship when they wouldn’t define what it looked like. I think people kind of entrusted us with those sort of decisions and as ill defined as this was it was not the right thing for Tennessee.”
Fulbaum responded by asking “Is Obamacare now the law of the land as John Boehner said or are we going to continue to see challenges or battles that opponents hope chip away so that it goes away all together?”
Haslam: “For governors we have to go forward it on the basis of this was what was passed and we have to implement the pieces that we’re responsible for. Again, I’d like to see a different direction because, again I think it is incredibly costly for the federal government, for state governments; it’s going to be very difficult and for small businesses as well. I’d like to see it go away. In the meantime we’re charged with implementing it as it is.”
Fulbaum said that he has relatives in Memphis that he hopes to visit soon. Come on down, Rick!