News release from Senate Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE – Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday urged Gov. Haslam to establish a Tennessee Insurance Exchange under the Affordable Care Act.
In a conference call with the governor Tuesday, administration officials told legislators that establishing a state-run exchange would be cheaper for Tennesseans and for insurance providers, and could give the state more control. With three days before the federal deadline, the administration still had not made a decision.
“The presidential election was decisive, and Obamacare is the law of the land,” Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle said. “Government closest to the people governs best, and that should be a guiding principle as we implement the new health care law.”
The governor can say yes now to a state-run exchange and back out later if that’s what’s best for Tennessee. But if we say no now, the state could lose as much as $90 million in federal grants. Any state-run exchange would still be subject to approval by the General Assembly.
“We have come to count on Gov. Haslam for pragmatic leadership in an environment where the legislature is increasingly partisan,” Democratic caucus chairman Lowe Finney said. “It’s clear that if we run the exchange, it will be cheaper for taxpayers, and it will allow our state to retain more control.”
Note: News release from House Democratic Caucus below.
North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders have unveiled their congressional redistricting plan, which is designed to make four incumbent Democrats more vulnerable to GOP challengers. One of them is Rep. Health Schuler, who is reportedly considering the possibility of being named to the University of Tennessee athletic director’s position.
The Republican redistricting plan changes Schuler’s district from 52 percent Republican (based on the 2008 presidential race results) to 58 percent Republican, according to the Washington Post. The plan moves Republican-leaning counties of Mitchell, Caldwell and Avery into Schuler’s 11th District while moving half of Democrat-leaning Buncombe County into Republican Patrick Henry’s 10th District, says the News and Observer.
Schuler has been non-commenting on the speculation about the UT athletic director’s position through a spokesman in Washington. But the Union City Messenger asked him personally while he was in the Tennessee town of Union City last week and got what the reporter described as a “political answer.”
“Right now, I’m focused on the job at hand and the issues that our nation is facing,” the former Vol quarterback and current North Carolina congressman told The Messenger just prior to speaking to the Boys & Girls Club at the “Breakfast for Champions” … at Union City Middle School. “It’s very flattering that my name has been mentioned, but today I’m focused on talking to these kids and the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) later today.”
Shuler — in town as part of a trip that includes participation in an FCA golf tournament this afternoon in Dyersburg — did say he has been contacted by numerous “supporters and fans” in regard to the AD’s job. He would not confirm whether he is a candidate or not.
A radio host for WLVZ radio in Knoxville and numerous other news agencies have reported that Shuler was possibly interested in replacing Mike Hamilton, who resigned earlier this month.
Rumors aside, Shuler had no qualms discussing his limitless love for the university.
“My blood runs orange,” he said when asked if Tennessee still has a special place in his heart. “There is a family atmosphere at the university that is special. It’s something that you don’t see at a lot of other places.
“I’ll always be a part of the UT family and that’s something the good Lord has blessed me with.”
Shuler also applauded the loyalty of Volunteer fans across the state while at UCMS, recalling stops he made as a student-athlete and the support he received.
“Tennessee’s a very large state, but the fan support is just incredible,” Shuler said “From Union City to Knoxville is a pretty long drive, but I remember going to Memphis and Nashville as a player and seeing orange everywhere.
“There are universities much closer than Knoxville, but the loyalty is amazing. I was at a small get-together last night (in Union City) and there were orange ‘T’s’ on almost every shirt.”
Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler is reportedly considering a job as the University of Tennessee’s athletic director, but his spokesman said the congressman’s recent fundraising suggests he’s not planning to leave Capitol Hill anytime soon, reports The Tennessean.
The spokesman, Andrew Whelan, didn’t expressly deny that Shuler is considering the position at his alma mater in Knoxville. He said the congressman “is not seeking the A.D. spot and hasn’t been offered the A.D. spot.”
“We’re doing everything we can to raise money for a re-election campaign in 2012,” Whelan said Wednesday. “I can’t really speak to sports talk radio or Internet rumors, but the congressman is looking forward to his re-election in 2012. He is running for Congress.”
Jimmy Stanton, communications director for UT athletics, said a committee is searching for the next athletic director, but he didn’t know who’s being considered.
Knoxville radio station WVLZ reported this week that Shuler is in talks with UT leadership about the position. He was a star quarterback for the Vols in the 1990s.
Experts say the three-term Democrat faces a tough race in 2012, especially because redistricting by the state’s Republican legislature may strip Asheville, a Democratic stronghold, from Shuler’s district.
Shuler has geared up fundraising with four events in the past two weeks. Another will take place in August at a concert given by Taylor Swift in Washington.