News release from Senate Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE – As the regular session of the General Assembly gets underway, it’s time for lawmakers to act on a plan to make health care more affordable, or step aside and let the governor advance his own proposal, House and Senate Democratic leaders said.
“We may not agree on the approach to make health care affordable in our state, but we have to work together on a solution,” state Sen. Jeff Yarbro said. “Gov. Haslam came forward with his plan, we’re coming forward with our proposals today, and we hope more legislators will put forward ideas in the coming weeks.”
Proposals include the full expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, legislation to authorize the governor’s Insure Tennessee plan, and legislation to allow the governor to negotiate a plan without legislative approval.
“Democratic lawmakers agree this issue is too important to let drop just because the governor’s own party let him down,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart said. “We are committed to finding a way to bring affordable health care to Tennesseans.”
The following bills were introduced:
• Senate Bill 885, filed by Sen. Jeff Yarbro, would repeal legislation passed by the 108th General Assembly that purportedly requires the governor seek legislative approval before accepting federal funds under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
• A Senate Joint Resolution to be filed today by Sen. Yarbro would authorize the governor to pursue his Insure Tennessee proposal, which could face different odds in the regular committee system.
• A Senate Joint Resolution to be filed today by Sen. Jeff Yarbro would authorize a full expansion of the state’s Medicaid program.
• A Senate bill to be filed today by Sen. Lee Harris, makes part-time state employees eligible for the same health insurance that part-time legislators receive.
“It’s not good enough for lawmakers to make political excuses and not support some kind of plan,” Sen. Yarbro said. “The General Assembly passed a law to make sure we were involved on this issue, and now it’s time to see if we’re up to the job.”