On Haslam’s Insure TN promotional tour stops in Johnson City, Murfreesboro

Excerpts from a Johnson City Press report on Gov. Bill Haslam’s visit to Johnson City on the final day of his Insure Tennessee promotion tour:

“People say, ’At the end of the day, this is Tennessee relying more on federal money; the federal government doesn’t have any money to rely on, every dollar they have they’re borrowing, and it’s tying us deeper and deeper to somebody that’s deep in debt,’ ” Haslam said. “My answer to that would be this: We have a problem now with health care costs. Doing nothing is not an answer. We can’t keep going the way we’re going as a country.”

…State Rep. Mike Harrison, R-Rogersville, said not approving TennCare expansion could put the state’s rural hospitals, many of which serve poor areas, at risk, citing the closure of a hospital in his district.

“When I hear people concerned with the federal debt, and they’re laying their ‘no’ vote on the fact that they don’t want to increase the federal deficit, well, that’s just a lame excuse,” Harrison said.

After the meeting, Johnson City state Sen. Rusty Crowe, who questioned Haslam on the possibility of canceling the expansion after the two-year pilot period, said he hasn’t yet made up his mind on how he will cast his vote.

“I think we’re all looking forward to the debate and finding out if it will be long or short,” Crowe said. “I think those of us here today have open minds, but we understand the political situation.”

And from the Daily News Journal’s report on Haslam’s Murfreesboro visit:

Rep. Mike Sparks of Smyrna…suggested he’s worried about contributing to a national debt at $18.2 trillion.

“I look at the deficit, but I see the needs of the community,” said Sparks, who noted that a family member of his with cancer was unable to seek treatment recently at local hospitals. “The ER was full.”

…(Sen. Jim) Tracy questioned Haslam and Tenncare Director Darin Gordon if the state was prepared to handle an increase of those enrolling for Insure Tennessee, such as an estimated 450,000 that would be eligible.

“There’s always more who sign up than initially (projected),” Tracy said.

Gordon responded by telling Tracy that the state estimates that the more folks who sign will mean lower costs for each.