Press Releases

THCC Touts Last Two TN Public Hearings for Obamacare Coverage Recommendations

Press release from the Tennessee Health Care Campaign; August 1, 2012: 

What benefits and services will Tennesseans get in the new affordable coverage options under health reform? It is up to our state leaders to decide!

TN Department of Commerce & Insurance will only be accepting comments from patients and providers through next Friday, so you must act quickly!

Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak will soon be making recommendations to the Governor about which health conditions, services and medications should be covered under the private insurance plans sold through the health insurance exchange, the competitive marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for insurance in 2014. To inform her recommendations, the Department of Commerce & Insurance has been collecting stakeholder feedback in public hearings happening across the state this week.

You can bet that they have heard from the insurance companies. Now they need to hear from you!

Make your voice heard by participating in the public hearing in your area. There are only two left – in West Tennessee THIS Friday!

August 3, 2012, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Hamilton Eye Institute, Freeman Auditorium
930 Madison, 3rd Floor
Memphis, TN 38103

August 3, 2012, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
McWherter’s Ayers Auditorium, Jackson State Community College
2046 North Parkway
Jackson, TN 38301

Please note: These hearings are being organized by the TN Department of Commerce & Insurance, not THCC. For updated information, please check their website. If you missed the hearing in your area, you can still submit comments through the email address and physical address provided on the left.

Public comments will only be accepted through August 10, 2012.

This decision is especially important for anyone with chronic conditions or special health needs because it will determine whether their insurance is required to cover the services, medications or treatments they need. Please make sure to pass this notice on to friends, neighbors or loved ones that will be affected.

This decision will set the bar for new plans sold through the Exchange, but it will also set the standard that employer-sponsored coverage will be judged against in the future. If you believe that your insurance card is only as good as the benefits it covers, now is the time to make your voice heard!

Thanks for all that you do!

~The THCC team

P.S. We heard from folks that the plan documents posted by Commerce & Insurance on their website were moved after our original email with links went out two weeks ago. We have updated the links on the left, but if you have problems, please go directly to their website here:

-and click on the documents below “Comparison” on the righthand side of the page.

To read more about this decision:

“State holds first hearing on Affordable Care Act benefits.” by Tom Wilemon for The Tennessean, July 17, 2012.

“Tennesseans input sought on health benefits decision.” by Kristi Nelson for the Knoxville News Sentinel, July 28, 2012.

“Memphis area residents to get say on the future of health insurance.” Toby Sells for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, July 31, 2012.

Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker Tax and Budget

TBI Looks to Lift $3M from Gun-Carry Permit Revenues for Fingerprint Database

Tennessee’s Bureau of Investigation hopes to pull $3 million from handgun permit fees to upgrade the state’s fingerprinting database next year and says otherwise more crimes will go unsolved.

Although that practice is legal under state code, gun rights advocates say it’s unfair that a portion of their user fees fund activities that have little to do with law-abiding gun owners.

“The objective of the government to invest money in fingerprinting is not an activity that can be identified as servicing the permit holder process,” said John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association.

“Our view is they shouldn’t be charging essentially the permit holder for the cost, or even a substantial portion of the cost, for the technology and personnel when it’s a part of law enforcement that needs to be funded by the state’s general budget,” Harris said.

Every time someone buys a $115 Tennessee handgun permit, $15 is channeled to the TBI and held in a fund “for the sole purpose of updating and maintaining its fingerprint criminal history database,” according to state law. TBI has proposed taking a total of $3 million from that fund in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Storage for the state’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System database is now reaching capacity, TBI Director Mark Gwyn told Gov. Bill Haslam during a budget hearing Nov. 4 on Capitol Hill.

“If we don’t have this upgrade, we just will not be able to put any more latent fingerprints in the system, and obviously, if that there were to happen, there would be crimes that would not be solved,” Gwyn said at the hearing.

The agency is proposing a $65.9 million budget, including federal funds, which is 2.6 percent lower than the current year’s.

When asked to reduce the state share of the department’s spending by 5 percent, or $1.7 million, Gwyn said he would eliminate 18 filled agent positions and do away with another six vacant jobs that have been left empty for more than a year. The department now has almost 500 people on staff, including 328 gun- and badge-carrying agents.

In the last year, the department handled 1,818 active cases, contributed to 181 convictions and 247 arrests, according to TBI.

The governor is meeting throughout the month with agency directors to talk about their budget needs and determine where he may be able to cut as much as $400 million in next year’s spending plan to make up for expenses outpacing the state’s revenue growth. The governor is expected to propose a roughly $31 billion budget early next year.

Health Care Liberty and Justice News

Committee Taking Up H1N1 Vaccine Rule

The Joint Government Operations Committee is reviewing a plan today to let paramedics administer H1N1 flu vaccines.

The measure allows emergency medical personnel (pdf) to issue the flu shots at mass vaccinations in an effort to curb spread of the flu while keeping other public health personnel, like doctors and nurses, from getting sick.

The H1N1 rule is one of thirty up for approval before the  committee today.

Rules are not laws. Rather, they dictate how laws are enforced.

The H1N1 rule went into effect in late October, although it still needs to be OK’d by the committee and the General Assembly. Other rules will go into effect in January or as late as March.

Some rules are more routine, such as a rule up for approval today bridging the gap between old and new regulations for assisted care living facilities.

Others are more urgent, according to officials, and require immediate enactment. These rules are effective immediately after filing but will expire after 180 days.

The committee meets today at 10:30 a.m.