Press Release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus, Jan. 16, 2014:
GOP majority has come back to Nashville determined to put politics before people
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee General Assembly came back into session and hopes for a return to sanity were quickly dashed by the Republican majority. Leading the pack in legislation aimed at hurting working families were Rep. Mark Pody and State Sen. Mae Beavers who announced legislation to kick over 36,000 Tennesseans off their health insurance by making it a crime to purchase insurance through a federal exchange.
“Tens of thousands of Tennesseans have, some for the first time in their life, gained access to quality, affordable health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Rep. JoAnne Favors (D-Chattanooga), who has been trained and certified as a health care navigator. “To make it a crime to have access to health care coverage, along with subsidies that help working families pay for insurance, would be unconscionable and unconstitutional.”
Called the “Tennessee Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act” by the sponsors, the legislation bans the federally run health care exchange in Tennessee – which is already operating and is now the only way Tennesseans can sign up for TennCare. The legislation goes so far as to empower the General Assembly to fine and penalize those who seek quality, affordable health insurance through the HealthCare.gov website.
Meanwhile, House Democrats used the opening session to remind Republicans of the fiscal, economic and moral blunder that has occurred by not participating in the Medicaid expansion which is fully funded by the federal government over the next three years. On the House floor, Democrats reminded the Republican leadership that $2.5 million Tennessee tax dollars were leaving the state – never to come back – as long as we refuse to accept the federal Medicaid expansion funds.
“The contrast could not be clearer. Democrats want to allow hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans to have access to health care, while the Republicans are now talking about turning people who want quality, affordable insurance into criminals,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “Tennesseans have now forfeited about $40 million this year because of Tea Party opposition to the President. It is our duty to remind them every day that it is not too late to act on the side of business groups, hospitals, doctors, nurses, faith leaders and 63 percent of the people of Tennessee by expanding Medicaid.”