TN Senate Dems Fret About Impact of Anti-Exchange Bill

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; February 24, 2015:

Legislation would ensure Supreme Court ruling strips people of health care

NASHVILLE – Weeks after a committee denied a full vote on Insure Tennessee, a new piece of legislation will be heard in committee today that could take health insurance away from 229,000 people who already have it.

“This legislation addresses a hypothetical scenario, but it could have very real consequences for a lot of Tennesseans,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro said. “It would be tragic for Tennesseans to lose the security of health insurance just to prove an ideological point.”

While Insure Tennessee would have covered people who earn between 100-138% of the federal poverty level, others who earn between 138-400% of the federal poverty level receive tax credits to buy insurance on the federal exchange.

SB 72 is on the calendar for today’s 1:30 p.m. meeting of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. It seeks to prohibit Tennessee from establishing a state exchange if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in King v. Burwell that Tennesseans who purchase insurance on the exchange are ineligible for federal tax credits. For most of the 229,000 Tennesseans who used the federal exchange to purchase insurance, this legislation would effectively eliminate their health care coverage. A ruling could come as early as this summer.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Tennesseans are receiving more than $700 million in federal tax subsidies that would vanish if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration. Notably, the proponents of SB 72 signed onto an amicus brief with the court, arguing that Tennesseans should not receive tax credits and cost assistance.

“It’s hard to believe we’re now starting a process to take insurance away from hundreds of thousands of people who already have it,” Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris said. “I hope someone wakes me up from this. This is a nightmare.”