Tag Archives: rejected

Haslam Rejects Medicaid Expansion (at least for now)

Gov. Bill Haslam told the General Assembly today that he is rejecting an expansion of Medicaid for now because the federal government has not agreed to some aspects of a “Tennessee plan” that involves using federal money to buy private insurance.
“A pure expansion of medicaid, expanding a broken system, doesn’t work,” said Haslam, contending he wants to use federal money to buy private insurance akin to the approach being tried in Arkansas. That would mean more people with health insurance without expanding the number on TennCare, the state’s system for Medicaid, he said.
But the federal Department of Health and Human Services has insisted on conditions for implementing the proposal that are unacceptable, Haslam said, and for now he will not recommend expansion in Tennessee.
“Our budget will not include language to accept the federal funds,” he said.
The statement brought applause from many Republicans assembled to hear his address, which left the door open for a change if federal officials change their position.
Haslam had earlier rejected establishment of a state-operated health care exchange in Tennessee, leaving the federal government to operate the clearinghouse between insurance companies offering policies and customers.
A broad array of interest groups have been urging the governor to accept expansion, ranging from the Tennessee Health Care Coalition, which advocates for low-income and disabled persons, to the the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
The Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee staff estimates that expansion would make 144,500 Tennesseans newly eligible for TennCare in the first year and bring about $1 billion in federal funds into the state.
Legislation that would block any expansion of Medicaid in the state had been scheduled for hearings later today in the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.
Haslam said that, if federal officials would go along with his plans, Tennessee can be “a model for what true health care reform looks like; reform that will take significant steps to save the state and the nation from the unsustainable path we are on now.”
The governor said his plan would take on “the critical issue of aligning incentives among users, payers and providers of health care.”
As described in a news release from the governor’s office, the Haslam “Tennessee Plan” would:
— Leverage available federal dollars to purchase private health insurance for Tennesseans up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level who don’t have access to health insurance, which would translate to 175,000 more insured Tennesseans;
— Allow co-pays for those who can afford to pay something;
— Include a definitive circuit-breaker or sunset of the plan that could only be renewed with the General Assembly’s approval;
— And reform the payment structure for providers so they are compensated for health outcomes, not just based on services performed.
— And reform the payment structure for providers so they are compensated for health outcomes, not just based on services performed.

House Commitee Rejects Wine in Grocery Stores

NASHVILLE – A bill clearing the way for sale of wine and grocery stores was killed in a House committee Tuesday, shattering hopes of proponents who had thought they were on the verge of breaking a six-year run of defeats.
Eight members of the House Local Government Committee voted against HB610 while just seven voted for it. The sponsor, Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, had asked that the vote be postponed a week, but his request was rejected after Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, said members “should hear it and make a decision today.”
The bill, in a change from most versions of the bill in prior years, did not directly allow wine in grocery stores. Instead, it let any city council or county commission – where liquor-by-the-drink is now legal – to schedule hold a local referendum on whether to expand wine sales to convenience stores and supermarkets.
Currently, only liquor stores can sell wine and they are forbidden to sell anything other than alcoholic beverages. Multiple amendments had been filed – 10 in the House committee – and most would have granted new rights to liquor stores faced with new competition. The amendments included proposals to allow sale of other products in liquor stores, to allow them to open on Sundays and holidays and to allow the same person to own more than one liquor store.

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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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Nashville Schools Lose $3.4M in State Funding for Rejecting Charter School

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The state Department of Education announced Tuesday it will withhold $3.4 million from the public school system in Nashville over a rejected charter school application.
The Metro Nashville school board last week defied an order by the state Board of Education to approve the school proposed by Phoenix-based Great Hearts Academies. The fine is the equivalent of one month worth of the school district’s administrative costs, or about 1.4 percent of the $236 million the city’s school system receives annually under the state funding formula.
“This was not a decision that anybody in the state takes any pleasure in, but we also think that we are a state of laws,” Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters.
“We can’t just stand back,” he said.

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Committee Says ‘No’ to College ID for Voting

A bill to make college student cards valid identification for voting was killed Tuesday by Republicans who said the cards are already being used too often for fraudulent purposes.
The state law that took effect Jan. 1 to require a photo ID issued by state or federal government for voting excluded college cards, including those issued by state universities.
Democratic Rep. Joe Pitts of Clarksville, sponsor of the bill, said the current law wrongfully excludes college students who might not have a driver’s license, but have met all other qualifications for voting.
“We should be encouraging young people to vote, not discouraging them,” he said.
But House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said he understands that many students already obtain fake student ID cards to buy alcohol when underage, “not that my 21-year-old angel (daughter) over at UT would ever do anything like that.”
Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, a former deputy sheriff, recalled a case of a youth using a college ID to buy alcohol, then becoming involved in a fatal accident. He said the validity of a driver’s license can be readily checked by law enforcement and others, but a college ID cannot.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville rejected the Republican suggestions that students would use a fake college ID to vote.
“They might swap college IDs around to buy beer,” he said. “But vote fraud is a felony. A lot of young people like me, but they’re not going to go to prison to vote for me.”
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, said that if colleges and universities could be trusted to educate young adults, they can also be trusted to issue valid ID and do so now with “campus security” in mind.
All six Democrats on the House State and Local Government Committee voted for HB2730 while 11 Republicans voted against it.