NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 23, 2013) – In what must be ironic news to the 330,000 Tennesseans waiting for a decision on Medicaid expansion, Governor Bill Haslam was chosen to Chair the National Governors Association’s Health and Human Services Committee along with vice-Chair Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin.
“This could be terrific news for Tennessee,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “Six of the ten governors on the task force Governor Haslam was appointed to in May have made the important decision to accept the federally funded Medicaid expansion. Hopefully Governor Haslam will learn from someone like New Mexico’s Republican Governor Susana Martinez who bucked tea party extremists in order to do the right thing for her state’s working poor.”
Governor Haslam is one of five governors in the United States who still claim to be “weighing options” on Medicaid expansion, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Governor Susana Martinez decided earlier this year to expand Medicaid, saying, “[t]he election is over and the Supreme Court has ruled. My job is not to play party politics, but to implement this law in a way that best serves New Mexico.”
“The Governor seems to have struggled with this decision,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner. “Unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands Tennesseans who are struggling to pay medical bills – having to make the impossible choice between food and the medicine they need. They simply can’t wait any longer for the Governor to finish his internal debate and do what is right for working families in our state.”
Governor Haslam has claimed to be working on a “third way” or “Tennessee Plan” with the federal government that would utilize Medicaid expansion funds for private insurance plans. However, unlike Arkansas which has already begun implementing such a plan, the Governor has not indicated he is closer to making a decision by the January 1st deadline for initial Medicaid expansion funds.
Details on the National Governor’s Association Health and Human Services Committee can be found here: http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/blog/2013/10/haslam-tapped-to-head-national.html