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Tennessee Says NO to Obamacare Insurance Exchanges

Nevin Batiwalla: Staff Reporter- Nashville Business Journal

Tennessee will let the federal government set up a health insurance exchange in the state as part of Obamacare, Gov. Bill Haslam announced today.

Haslam, who opposed President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, had previously said that the state running its exchange would be the “lesser of two evils.” Today, however, he said he has become “more and more” convinced that federal officials are making things up as they go along.

Haslam made his remarks during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Nashville downtown.

The federal exchange is a key part of the Affordable Care Act’s strategy to dramatically expand the number of Americans who have health insurance. Depending on their income levels, millions of Americans will qualify for subsidies to help buy insurance through the exchanges.

Tennessee Democrats wasted little time in criticizing Haslam’s decision, as House Democrats issued a statement while Haslam continued his remarks to the Rotary Club.

“I’m disappointed to see the governor pandering to the far right of his party rather than doing what is best for the people of Tennessee,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “I would hate to know that I had a 70 percent approval rating statewide, and couldn’t get my own party to support my initiatives.”

“It is disappointing that our governor found it too difficult to do what 23 other states have begun to do — implement their own health insurance exchange,” said Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “In the end, if Gov. Haslam was unable to convince his party to reject partisan politics and do the right thing, perhaps it was best for him to allow the federal government to begin setting up an exchange for him.”