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Haslam Decides Against State-Run Health Care Exchange

Gov, Bill Haslam said today he has decided against the establishment of a state-operated health care exchange and will allow the federal government to oversee the clearing house for insuring Tennesseans.
Haslam said he would have preferred for several reasons to set up a state-run exchange but, “I’m sad to say and sorry to say, we won’t.” He said the federal government has been so unclear about the rules that it is not practical.
“More and more I’m convinced they are making this up as they go,” Haslam told a Nashville Rotary Club audience. “It’s scary, quite frankly.”
Haslam said 800 pages of proposed regulations — as part of the Affordable Care Act — have been received from the federal government since the Nov. 6 election and those are draft proposals subject to change.
While he knows some would say he is making a politically based decision, but that isn’t the case, he said.
“If it was a political decision, we would have made it months ago,” he said. “The politics have always been pretty clear on this.”
Several Republican legislators have declared they would oppose Haslam if he tried to set up such a state-run exchange in Tennessee. The governor acknowledged that getting legislative approval for a state exchange “would have been an uphill battle,” but said that was not the deciding factor.
Haslam said it’s possible that the state could revisit the issue in another year or two.
“When we’re convinced they have their ducks in a row, then we’ll take a look at it,” he said, adding that federal officials as recently as Friday had declined to answer state questions about how things would function with a state-run exchange.
“The face they couldn’t or wouldn’t was really bothersome,” Haslam said.

Note: Text of the letter Haslam sent Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announcing his decision is below.

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