Fitzhugh: ‘Overwhelming Majority’ of House Democrats Support Haslam’s Medicaid Expansion

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; January 30, 2015:

Overwhelming number of House Democrats prepared to support plan

Nashville, TN: House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh issued the following statement on Insure Tennessee after meeting with his caucus members late Thursday afternoon:

“For the last two-years, House Democrats have fought hard to extend health care coverage to the 330,000 Tennesseans who fall in the Medicaid gap. These are able-bodied, working men and women who make too little to qualify for a subsidy on the federal exchange, but earn too much for our traditional Medicaid program.

After 349 days and $872,500,000 lost, Governor Haslam put forward Insure Tennessee as a conservative counter-proposal to traditional Medicaid expansion. Churches and hospitals, business leaders and community activists, chambers of commerce & workers organizations have all expressed their support for this plan.

Insure Tennessee is not traditional Medicaid expansion. This approach is much less generous in terms of coverage and benefits than House Democrats would prefer, but we understand the numbers. While members of both parties still have concerns, we feel strongly that they can be alleviated by giving this legislation a full and fair hearing. Whatever political differences may exist, we can all agree that the lives of the 200,000 Tennesseans this plan covers far outweigh any objection raised by special interest groups.

After studying this waiver, listening to our constituents and meeting together on Thursday, the overwhelming majority of House Democrats are prepared to support the Insure Tennessee plan. It is not perfect; our members have many questions, but the time has come for Tennessee to address this issue once and for all.

Next week our state will mark a sad anniversary as we pass the $1 billion lost mark; the lives lost tell an even greater story of our moral failure to protect the least among us. It is our hope that all members will put aside politics and answer instead to a higher power. That is our prayer and the goal toward which we will work—together with Republicans—over the next week.”