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TN House Dems: Haslam Hurting TN by Not Expanding Medicaid

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; July 2, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Wednesday, July 2, 2014) – A new report released by the White House Council of Economic Advisers titled “Missed Opportunities: The consequences of state decisions not to expand Medicaid,” lays out the fiscal, economic and moral failure caused by the Haslam administration’s refusal to expand Medicaid in Tennessee.

“How much more proof does the Governor and this Republican majority need to realize they are hurting Tennesseans by playing politics with Medicaid?” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “You don’t have to be an economist to understand the positive impact expansion would have on our economy and our citizens’ lives.”

Tennessee is one of 24 states listed in the report that has refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion, which would be fully-funded by the federal government until the end of 2016 and would give working men and women up to 138% of the federal poverty level access to health care coverage.

“It is gut-wrenching to think of all the women whose lives could be saved through early detection of breast and cervical cancer,” said Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis). “This is an issue that should transcend politics. We have the opportunity to help so many hardworking families in a way that boosts our economy and creates jobs – I just can’t fathom how people of faith and good conscience could refuse to act.”

The report by the Council of Economic Advisers forecasts the benefits of Medicaid expansion for states if they would have joined the 26 other states, along with the District of Columbia, in participating in the Medicaid expansion. The results for Tennessee are as follows:

Health and Well-being of Tennesseans

The number of Tennesseans with insurance coverage would have increased by 234,000 people by the end of 2016 if Governor Haslam and the Republican majority expanded Medicaid.

14,000 women in Tennessee would be receiving cancer detecting Pap smears, along with 9,500 more women who could catch breast cancer early through mammogram screenings.

56,000 more Tennesseans would have a usual source of clinic care, with 27,000 more Tennesseans receiving all the medical care they require due to the 632,000 additional physician visits each year.

As a result of Medicaid expansion, the number of Tennesseans experiencing depression would have decreased by 19,000, with 31,000 more Tennesseans reporting good, very good or excellent health.

Health and Well-being of Tennessee’s Economy

If Governor Haslam would do the right thing, 10,500 fewer Tennesseans would be stuck paying catastrophic out-of-pocket health care costs each year, while 33,300 fewer people would have to take out loans to pay for their medical bills.

Tennessee’s gross domestic product would increase by $3,810,000,000 between 2014-2017 if we expanded Medicaid, thanks to the $5,130,000,000 increase in federal expenditures in Tennessee, resulting in 21,700 jobs creased between 2014 and 2017.

The full “Missed Opportunities” report can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/missed_opportunities_medicaid.pdf

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Haslam Announces Rough Country Relocation, 200 Job Expansion

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; June 30, 2014: 

Premium Suspension Products Manufacturer to Invest $1.5 Million, Forecasts 200 New Jobs

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Rough Country Suspension Systems officials announced today the company will relocate its distribution operations to a 250,000 square foot facility in Newbern. Headquartered in Dyersburg, the expansion will allow Rough Country to more than double the size of its workforce as well as its Dyer County footprint. With a goal of being fully operational by late August, Rough Country’s plans include investment of $1.5 million and the creation of up to 200 new jobs over the next five years.

“I want to congratulate Rough Country on this expansion in Dyer County and thank the company for the new jobs that will be created for Tennesseans,” Haslam said. “We leverage our state’s assets to create an environment that allows companies to grow and expand, and today’s announcement supports our goal to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Rough Country designs, produces, markets and distributes premium suspension products for trucks, Jeeps and SUVs. All distribution operations, including international, will be managed out of the Newbern facility.

“Our state’s superior transportation and logistics infrastructure make it possible for companies to distribute quality Tennessee-made products to locations throughout the world,” Hagerty said. “Tennessee’s export shipments totaled more than $30 billion last year, and we credit companies like Rough Country for thinking beyond the borders of our state. I appreciate Rough Country’s continued investment and the new jobs that will be created in Dyer County.”

Founded in 1988, Rough Country has significantly expanded its product offering and customer base over the last five years requiring additional production and warehouse space to meet its service expectations. The Newbern facility will house Rough Country’s primary packaging and assembly operation as well as its primary distribution point for finished goods inventory. From this location, Rough Country will support other warehouse operations including its industry-leading same day shipping offering.

“We are thrilled with the team that has been assembled here in Dyer County, and excited by the opportunities we see for Rough Country and our market going forward,” Rough Country CEO Ken Dunn said. “We’ve been blessed to add jobs each year at Rough Country and the expansion in Newbern is a reflection of our confidence in the local workforce and our commitment to the area.”

“We are so fortunate Rough Country Suspension Systems has chosen Newbern as the area to expand its business. Rough Country has a long history of manufacturing and distributing the finest products for the automotive and off-road industries,” Newbern Mayor Olen Parker said. “When it comes to off-road drivers, there is one name that is superior and that name is Rough Country Suspension Systems. Not only do they bring superior products, they bring an exceptional workforce to our community. This type of industrial growth is only achieved when local, regional and state organizations get behind a company and support them in their efforts. Rough Country believes in its products, and the city of Newbern will do everything possible to ensure Rough Country continues to succeed. We are proud to welcome Rough Country to our community and family of industries.”

“TVA congratulates Rough Country Suspension Systems on their expansion which brings new jobs in the Newbern area,” John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development, said. “TVA and Newbern Electric Water & Gas are glad to be economic development partners with the state of Tennessee, Dyer County, and other community leaders to help existing companies grow.”’

Facility investments will include new equipment related to packaging and assembly lines. With additional growth, the continued investments in automated processes and quality improvements are included in Rough Country’s forecast.

To learn more about Rough Country, visit www.roughcountry.com. Current available positions can be found at http://roughcountry.applicantstack.com/x/openings.

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Haslam Announces Expansion of WS Packaging in Knoxville

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; February 6, 2014:

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with WS Packaging Group, Inc. officials today announced the company will expand its current operations in Knoxville by opening a new location in the PBR Building, located at 10215 Caneel Dr. In order to increase its operations to accommodate more industry market share, WS Packaging Group will also consolidate its Knoxville facilities to this more central location. The company will invest $43 million and create 231 new jobs.

“I want to thank WS Packaging Group for reinvesting in Tennessee, and I appreciate the new jobs being created in Knox County,” Haslam said. “One of the priorities in our Jobs4TN strategy is companies already doing business in Tennessee, and whenever a company already operating here decides to stay and expand, it further supports our goal of becoming the No. 1 location the southeast for high quality jobs.”

“I’m pleased WS Packaging Group can continue to benefit from Tennessee’s ideal business climate. As a state with the lowest per capita debt in the nation and our superior logistical advantages, we pride ourselves on investing in incumbent businesses,” Hagerty said. “I appreciate the new jobs WS Packaging Group is creating in our state and look forward to their continued presence in Tennessee.”

WS Packaging Group, Inc. is one of the largest label converting operations in North America with more than 45 years of experience in label printing and packaging. It operates 21 manufacturing facilities and produces high-quality packaging products. Its customers range in size from small businesses to large, high-volume manufacturers and consumer product goods companies doing business locally, nationally and in marketplaces worldwide. The company has more than 1,800 employees.

Through this consolidation of facilities and expansion, WS Packaging Group will move all of their Knoxville facilities to the new location in the PBR Building to create synergy between the different operations, and plans to complete the move to their new facility by mid-July.

“WS Packaging Group has a long-standing history as a leading provider of complex label solutions for branded consumer and business-to-business products for companies throughout North America,” WS Packaging chief executive officer Rex Lane said. “This expansion in Knoxville will allow us to meet the changing and growing needs of our customer base. It also will enable us to leverage a strong business environment, with support from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, to create additional employment opportunities.”

“I’m proud that WS Packaging chose to expand their operations into Knox County’s Westbridge Business Park,” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said. “These 231 new manufacturing jobs to our community are very welcome news.”

“WS Packaging’s $43 million expansion represents one of the largest manufacturing capital investments by an existing industry in Knox County in the past decade,” Knoxville Chamber President & CEO Mike Edwards said. “This is precisely why we have a sharp focus on business retention and expansion programs in our Innovation Valley economic development strategies.”

“TVA congratulates WS Packaging Group in Knoxville on their major expansion announcement that will add quality jobs for area residents,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “TVA and Lenoir City Utilities Board value the partnership with the state of Tennessee, Knoxville Chamber, and city and county leaders, which assists existing businesses to invest and grow locally.”

The company plans to begin initial hiring in March and April. People interested in applying for one of these new jobs can visit www.jobs4tn.gov or inquire at the Tennessee Career Center at Knoxville. Interested parties can also visit www.wspackaging.com for more information.

Tennessee was recently selected the No. 1 state in the nation for economic development by Business Facilities Magazine. Hagerty added, “The governor and I are pleased to see the results of the new strategy we put in place when the governor took office in 2011. Being named No. 1 in the U.S. underscores the fact that the governor’s strategy is working.”

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TNHDC: Haslam Letter to HHS Latest ‘Farce’ in ‘Continued Obstruction’ to TennCare Expansion

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; December 10, 2013:

Haslam Letter to Sebelius a Farce
The time to act is now on the Medicaid expansion.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Late yesterday, Governor Haslam released a letter to Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding his continued obstruction of Medicaid expansion in Tennessee.

“The Governor’s letter is simply the latest in a series of farces,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “It’s more of the same hand-wringing, ducking and dodging we’ve come to expect from this administration, all in an attempt to absolve themselves of the worst moral and mathematical failure in a generation—denying health care to 330,000 working Tennesseans.”

Governor Haslam’s letter offers no specific proposals, instead laying out a series of complaints and concerns about the overall Affordable Care Act. It offers no details about the so-called “Tennessee Plan,” which the Governor has yet to provide either to the federal government or state legislators.

“Governor Haslam is seeking to offer lower quality care to fewer people and still collect all the money allocated in the Medicaid expansion – that is not something that Secretary Sebelius has the power to authorize, and he knows that,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “If Governor Haslam is going to negotiate seriously with CMS on creating a ‘Tennessee Plan,’ it needs to be done in a way that both conforms to federal law and appreciates the economic, fiscal and moral blunder that would result from a decision not to expand Medicaid.”

A hybrid Medicaid expansion plan has already passed the Arkansas legislature and been approved by the federal government. The Arkansas Plan includes cost-sharing components and addresses questions about defining “medically frail” through a questionnaire developed by the state.

“Expanding Medicaid in Tennessee is not an impossible task, but Governor Haslam is doing everything he can to make it one,” said Leader Fitzhugh. “All of the serious questions about creating a hybrid plan have been addressed in the Arkansas Medicaid waiver. Tennesseans don’t have time for the Governor to wait for political cover. The time to act is now.”

The Tennessee General Assembly returns to session on January 14, 2014. Speakers Harwell and Ramsey have pledged to move the session along as quickly as possible, meaning the Governor may only have a few months left before legislators will be gone for the rest of the year. If we do not act by January 1, 2014, Tennessee will begin to lose $2.5 million per day in federal funding.

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TN Senate Dems Call Out Haslam for Not Expanding Medicaid With End of CoverTN

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; November 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today’s announcement that 15,400 Tennesseans will lose their health insurance follows three missed opportunities by Gov. Bill Haslam to avoid it.

“Governor Haslam has had three opportunities to make the new health law work for the benefit of Tennessee families,” House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh said. “Instead, he neglected his responsibility, and thousands of Tennesseans will lose their health insurance after Christmas.”

Gov. Haslam decided last year that Tennessee would not participate in defining the minimum coverage offered by health insurance policies known as “essential health benefits.” He left it to the federal government. He then opted not to establish a state-run exchange, defaulting to healthcare.gov for the purchase of private health insurance policies. More recently, the Governor has declined to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid for working families, a program which would provide basic health care services to thousands of working people across the state. Instead, millions of dollars will go to other states.

What’s more, the Governor could decide to continue CoverTN for one year under the ruling from the Department of Commerce and Insurance that allows health care plans not meeting essential health benefits to be extended for one year.

“The Governor has been given multiple opportunities to influence a health care program for the benefit of small businesses and families across Tennessee,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney. “Unfortunately, inaction has only resulted in a loss of coverage, which will only lead to less health care, poorer health and higher premiums for Tennesseans.”

Finney cited a recent study by the RAND Corporation showing that states that did not expand Medicaid were expected to see premiums increase as much as 10 percent for remaining policyholders.

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Haslam Announces 170 Position Expansion at Taylor Farms in Smyrna

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; July 3, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Taylor Farms officials announced today the company will expand operations at its Smyrna, Tenn. facility, resulting in a $5.9 million investment and the creation of 170 new positions in Rutherford County.

“It is especially exciting when existing Tennessee businesses are growing and expanding here,” Haslam said. “I am grateful to Taylor Farms for the company’s continued investment in and commitment to Tennessee. Projects like these fuel job creation in our state and bring us one step closer toward our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Tennessee remains a solid choice for incumbent industries to grow and expand with our central location, business-friendly environment and skilled workforce,” Hagerty said. “When companies like Taylor Farms continue to find success in our state, it underscores the significant job creation resulting from industry expansions, and I appreciate the company choosing to further invest in Smyrna and Rutherford County.”

“We are extremely excited for our continued growth in Rutherford County and Tennessee,” Taylor Farms Tennessee President Brian Thure said. “We pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, and Tennessee’s centralized location in the Southeast gives us the ability to service 17 states within a day’s drive. This expansion will allow us to continue offering new and innovative products in all three lines of our business: retail, foodservice and deli.”

Taylor Farms is North America’s largest supplier of value-added fresh produce to the foodservice industry, offering a full product line of fresh-cut vegetables and salads. In addition to the Smyrna operations, located at 199 Sam Ridley Parkway East, the company has 10 processing plants in the U.S. and one in Mexico.

The high increase in sales and overall growth of the company has driven the need to expand and will also account for the addition of new product lines.

“The added growth of Taylor Farms is another example of the positive business environment in Smyrna,” Smyrna Mayor Tony Dover said. “We applaud their efforts, congratulate them on adding 170 jobs to our community and wish them many years of continued success.”

Interested persons can contact Taylor Farms Human Resources Manager Gena Shearon at gshearon@taylorfarms.com to learn more about available positions.

About Taylor Farms
Taylor Farms is an American-based producer of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Founded in 1994 with the goal of becoming “America’s Favorite Salad Maker,” Taylor Farms currently ranks as the world’s largest producer of fresh-cut vegetables. With products that range from bagged salads to freshly prepared meals, Taylor Farms supplies many of the largest supermarket chains and foodservice restaurants in the United States. Taylor Farms headquarters are located in Salinas, California with regional processing plants in the following locations: Salinas, California; Tracy, California; Gonzales, California; Yuma, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Smyrna, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Annapolis, Maryland; Swedesboro, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. For more information on Taylor Farms, visit our website at www.taylorfarms.com.

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Senate GOP, Lt. Gov. Approve of Haslam Medicaid Decision

Statement from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; March 27, 2013:

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) said the following upon the conclusion of Governor Haslam’s address to a joint session of the 108th General Assembly:

“I applaud Governor Haslam’s decision to reject Obama’s medicaid expansion. Without bold reform of the Medicaid program tailored to Tennessee’s unique situation, there can be no compromise on this issue.”

“Four out of every ten dollars the federal government spends comes out of the back pockets of future generations. Tennessee must receive assurances that have not been forthcoming. Governor Haslam has laid out a plan for what true health care reform looks like. I commend him for his continued thoughtful and measured approach to this complex issue.”

Statement from State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro; March 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “Governor Haslam offered a good solution, rather than expanding an unsustainable and broken program. Unlike Washington, Tennessee has been working hard to control health care costs. Hopefully, Washington will see our 20-year record of working through the problems we face with our healthcare system and agree to work with us on a plan that will truly be both beneficial to improving healthcare outcomes in our state and sustainable over the long run.”

Statement from State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown; March 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – “I applaud Governor Haslam’s decision today to reject Medicaid expansion as envisioned by ObamaCare in this year’s budget,” stated Senator Brian Kelsey (R – Germantown) following the governor’s announcement
this morning. “I am happy to receive the governor’s commitment not to expand Medicaid in future years without legislative approval.”

Sen. Kelsey is the sponsor of Senate Bill 804, filed to block Medicaid expansion in Tennessee. Sen. Kelsey originally filed Senate Bill 1 on Nov. 7, 2012 to block expansion. He redrafted the bill and filed SB 804 on January 31, 2013 with 15 of the 33 state Senators as co-sponsors. The bill is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday afternoon, March 27. Sen. Kelsey serves as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman.

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VIDEO: Fitzhugh: Haslam ‘Failed to Deliver’ on Medicaid Expansion

Statement from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; March 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh has released the following video statement in response to Governor Haslam’s decision to not participate in the Medicaid expansion:

Earlier today, Governor Haslam announced Tennessee would turn down over $10 billion and not participate in Medicaid Expansion. This shocking decision comes after business groups, hospital associations, doctors, nurses, civic and faith leaders joined together to work with the Governor on this critical decision that impacts our citizens and our economy.

I truly believed that the governor was going to use this opportunity to show real leadership. Instead we’ve seen more of the hand-wringing and delayed action that we’ve become accustomed to.

Here are the facts.

300,000 Tennesseans will now be denied access to quality, affordable health care coverage; Coverage that wouldn’t have cost Tennessee taxpayers a dime for the first 3 years.

Estimates show that 90,000 jobs may be lost, and dozens of our rural hospitals are at risk of closing – leaving as many as 21 counties without a hospital altogether!

Tennessee’s economy will suffer as billions in federal dollars leave our state and go to California, New York and other states that have agreed to participate in Medicaid Expansion.

All of that says nothing about the moral obligation that we have as lawmakers to ensure the health and well-being of the least among us.

Governor Haslam says he is working on a “Tennessee Plan” to address these concerns. However, his announcement today came with few details and even fewer certainties for the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who have been counting on the governor to do the right thing.

While I hope that the Governor is serious about working with the federal government to create an alternative plan, past experience makes me question the sincerity of these efforts.

All too often with this administration, we have the Governor study, and study, and study an issue, only to come back later and say “no”.

My friends today is an illustration of why it matters who governs and this Governor has failed to deliver for the people of Tennessee. Our hearts go out to the thousands of people across this state who will suffer as a result of this decision. It is my hope and fervent prayer that in the future we can find a way to care for the least among us when they need it the most.

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Herron: Medicaid Rejection Not ‘Pro-Life’ Decision

Statement from the Tennessee Democratic Party; March 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron issued a statement Wednesday in response to Governor Bill Haslam’s rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid.

“Deuteronomy 30 urges us to ‘choose life,’ but self-proclaimed ‘pro-life’ Republicans applauded the governor denying health insurance to 300,000 Tennesseans in working families, even though that means each week another parent, another child, another loved one — or two — will die,” Herron said. “Reactionary and radical Republicans should never again call themselves ‘pro-life,’ not while condemning working Tennesseans without health insurance to die.”

In 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in an article called “Mortality and Access to Care among Adults after State Medicaid Expansions” that lives can be saved by expanding Medicaid.

“Tennessee should choose science instead of selfishness, people instead of politics, life instead of death,” Herron said.

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TN Hospitals ‘Disappointed’ in Haslam Medicaid Decision

Statement from the Tennessee Hospital Association; March 27, 2013:

Tennessee hospitals are disappointed the Governor couldn’t get the information he needs from CMS to move forward at this time with coverage of the expansion population.

The Governor has asked CMS to allow Tennessee to bring those who would be eligible for the Medicaid expansion into the health insurance exchange and provide them private coverage, thereby leveraging federal funding to transform healthcare in Tennessee without expanding the Medicaid rolls. Tennessee hospitals believe this is the correct approach for Tennessee.

We understand the need for clarity and we plan on working with the administration and the legislature to get the answers that will allow the state to make coverage available to the additional Tennesseans with incomes less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

We are hopeful we will get the necessary assurances from the federal government that will allow the Governor to pursue the vision he outlined this morning and there can be a special session of the legislature in Tennessee to take advantage of the 100 percent federal funding available this year.