Senators’ Insure TN dialog: Overbey issues statement; Kelsey tweets

State Sen. Doug Overbey says he will sponsor Gov Bill Halsam’s Insure Tennessee proposal after being convinced by the governor the program “is uniquely crafted to meet our specific needs while utilizing conservative principles.”

“Insure Tennessee brings market principles and individual responsibility to the program,” Overbey said in a statement. “The program is designed to control health care costs and improve access to many working poor Tennesseans who would otherwise have no access to affordable health insurance.”

Further from the Chattanooga TFP:

Overbey decided to sponsor the resolution allowing Haslam to seeks a waiver of federal Medicaid rules to extend health coverage to some 280,000 to 300,000 low-income Tennesseans, after Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, declined to carry it.

“This program is especially important to struggling rural hospitals that lost funding under the Affordable Care Act for treating poor patients who cannot pay,” Overbey said. “Unless it is approved, the loss of this funding could lead to the closure of some of our rural hospitals, meaning life and death for citizens in these areas to get to the nearest hospitals in a time of medical crisis.”

Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, an opponent of Haslam’s proposal, fired a political shot off Overbey’s bow on Thursday with a Twitter missive.

“I would encourage @SenDougOverbey to give Arkansas Rep. John Burris a call,” Kelsey tweeted.

Burris, a representative and “architect” of Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion plan, lost his bid for a state Senate seat last year, according to news accounts.

Note: Overbey’s full statement is below.

News release from Sen. Doug Overbey:
(NASHVILLE, TN), January 30, 2015 — “I accepted the opportunity to sponsor Insure Tennessee in the Senate after meeting with Governor Haslam this week and thoroughly discussing the program with him. During our conversation, I became convinced that Insure Tennessee is uniquely crafted to meet our specific needs while utilizing conservative principles. Insure Tennessee brings market principles and individual responsibility to the program. The program is designed to control health care costs and improve access to many working poor Tennesseans who would otherwise have no access to affordable health insurance.”

“This program is especially important to struggling rural hospitals that lost funding under the Affordable Care Act for treating poor patients who cannot pay. Unless it is approved, the loss of this funding could lead to the closure of some of our rural hospitals, meaning life and death for citizens in these areas to get to the nearest hospitals in a time of medical crisis. Those closures would also put more stress on hospitals statewide, placing our healthcare system in jeopardy.”

“I look forward to talking with my colleagues as we begin the special session on Monday about this legislation and how Governor Haslam’s proposal will benefit the citizens of our state.”