GOP Congressmen Hail Haslam’s Healthcare Exchange Decision

Chris Carroll rounds up comments from the state’s congressmen on Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to let the federal government run a healthcare exchange in Tennessee. Guess what? Republicans think that’s just fine; Democrats don’t.
On Monday, a (U.S. Rep. Scott) DesJarlais Twitter message thanked Haslam for rejecting a state-run exchange, implicitly applauding the decision to yield administrative power to a Washington-based federal agency with 64,000 employees.
DesJarlais’ office declined to comment, but in a Tennessean op-ed, he claimed a state-run exchange would be “a logistical nightmare.”
Feelings are similar in the Senate. A former governor and onetime education secretary for President George H.W. Bush, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has pushed for states to set their own standards for schools, teachers and students.
In a 2011 New York Times piece critical of “the Washington-imposed” No Child Left Behind Act, Alexander wrote: “Washington can’t create good jobs, and Washington can’t create good schools.”
On Tuesday the Maryville Republican took another approach when asked about the Affordable Care Act.
“Given the number of unanswered questions about federal control of a state exchange and state tax dollars, it certainly is a reasonable decision,” Alexander said of Haslam’s choice to cede authority.
Similarly, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., often slams “Obamacare” as an overreach. At one debate, he said “the federal government took over one-sixth of our economy in a bill that was not even read.”
But Tuesday the congressman refused to apply that criticism to Haslam’s decision to let the federal government implement a statewide insurance market.
“Rep. Fleischmann makes no secret of his principled opposition to Obamacare,” spokesman Alek Vey said. “However, decisions about how to implement Obamacare in Tennessee are made at the state level by the governor and the Legislature.”
Democrats pounced on what they see as hypocrisy and sabotage against President Obama.
“It is obvious politics played a substantial part in the governor’s decision,” U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said in a statement. “Governor Haslam has surrendered the chance to establish an exchange program tailored to Tennessee’s specific needs.”

Leave a Reply