Harwellcare task force meets in Memphis; ‘It’s for real’

As the third meeting of House Speaker Beth Harwell’s the task force charged with finding alternatives to Insure Tennessee began breaking up Monday in Memphis, reports the Commercial Appeal, Rep. Steve McManus took hold of the microphone to rebut citizens’ criticism that the panel is a farce.

“We’re for real, and we’re going to work for you,” said McManus, a Cordova Republican who sits on the task force.

Rep. Cameron Sexton, chairman of the “3-Star Healthy Project” task force and a Crossville Republican, said after the meeting — agreeing with McManus — that the goal wasn’t to completely scrap Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan, which failed to win legislative approval. Instead, the task force will re-evaluate it to see what parts, if any, the General Assembly can support.

“Insure didn’t have the votes,” he said. “We’re going to look to see if there’s a different approach.”

Summing up his takeaways from the meeting, Sexton said the task force — which includes Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis — could try to ease restrictions on faith-based health care organizations like the Church Health Center, which connects patients with volunteer doctors for a flat $35 fee.

Dr. Scott Morris, CEO of Church Health Center, told the task force that state law should be changed to allow citizens to claim health care coverage to satisfy the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and avoid costly fines for being uninsured.