NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 10, 2012) – Tennessee governor Bill Haslam announced Monday that Tennessee will not set up a state-run insurance exchange under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Haslam made the announcement during a speech to Nashville’s Downtown Rotary Club. According to the Tennessean, the governor said he decided not to go through with setting up a state-run exchange “because he’s received insufficient information about how it would operate from the federal government.”
The Volunteer State looked like it might be on track to set up an exchange, despite the legal prohibition for such a move under the Tennessee Health Freedom Act. Tennessee accepted more than $9 million in federal funding earmarked for creation of a state exchange over the last two years. Federal dollars began flowing into the Volunteer State under Gov. Phil Bredesen and continued unabated under Haslam.
The insurance lobby pushed hard for a state run exchange. Grassroots activist groups, including the Tennessee chapter of the Tenth Amendment Center, countered that pressure with a full court press of their own.
“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Tennesseans all across the state, Gov. Bill Haslam has seen the light and will not implement the state exchange in Tennessee,” Tennessee TAC state coordinator Lesley Swann said. “But we still have a fight ahead to prevent the expansion of the state’s Medicaid rolls. We must continue to stay vigilant to ensure that Tennessee stays true to the values set forth in the Constitution. Tennesseans should make their own decisions on health care. That is simply not a constitutional role of the federal government.”
While Haslam’s decision appears more pragmatic than principled, and he still has failed to acknowledge that the Tennessee Health Freedom Act should make refusing implementation of the PPACA a slam dunk, TAC national communications director Mike Maharrey says Haslam made the right call, adding that the growing number of states refusing to set up exchanges creates a real problem for federal bureaucrats.
“This is a good first step. The feds depend on state cooperation to make these huge programs work. If a large number of states refuse to set these exchanges up, it puts an increasing burden on the federal bureaucracy, one I’m not convinced they are really prepared to deal with. It will definitely gum up the works, and it sets the stage for more aggressive state action to block implementation of this unconstitutional act.”