It is not only appropriate but altogether sensible that lawmakers in Tennessee have refused to enact legislation setting up a so-called "health insurance exchange" dictated by ObamaCare.
It is appropriate because ObamaCare is a disgusting federal power grab, and it is sensible because within a few weeks the U.S. Supreme Court might strike down the Democrat-enacted law as the unconstitutional intrusion that it is. No sense wasting time and legislative effort putting in place something that ultimately may prove not necessary.
The federal government recently sent Tennessee an additional $4.3 million to set up the exchange, which will create a "one-stop shop" where consumers allegedly may select from a range of affordable, high-quality insurance plans. That brings to $9.1 million the amount of money Washington has sent the state for the exchange. Alabama has received $9.6 million, meanwhile, and Georgia has gotten $1 million.
In typical mandate fashion, the federal government will impose the exchanges on any states that do not set them up willingly. The states must submit their plans for the exchanges by this November and must have the exchanges in place by the beginning of 2014, or they will be subject to the federal government stepping in and creating the exchanges anyway.
But many states have been, shall we say, understandably uncooperative. The vast majority have not passed legislation to set up the exchanges, and about half of the states do not even have any legislation pending to that effect.
The Tennessee General Assembly commendably adjourned its most recent session without enacting legislation to set up the exchanges.
That should come as no surprise.
Most of the states have joined lawsuits to have ObamaCare overturned as unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court recently heard arguments on that question.
It is impossible to know what the high court may do with ObamaCare, but it is at least encouraging that a number of the justices offered refreshing skepticism about the notion that the federal government can force the American people to purchase federal government-approved medical insurance or be punished.
At any rate, it is hardly unusual that states which are suing to have ObamaCare overturned are in no particular rush to enact legislation that will impose the law's costs and regulations on their residents. And in the case of Tennessee, lawmakers have declined to pass insurance exchange legislation even though the state is not formally part of the lawsuits.
That is as much a matter of fiscal self-defense as it is about the principle that the 10th Amendment denies the federal government authority over questions such as medical insurance.
One need not listen only to Republican talking points or visit only conservative websites to see the peril that ObamaCare poses to states' budgets.
Democratic former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen labeled ObamaCare the "mother of all unfunded mandates" and projected that it will cost Tennessee more than $1 billion from 2014 to 2019 because of its expansion of Medicaid.
That, too, is no surprise. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has estimated that Tennessee will see a 25.1 percent increase in its Medicaid population under ObamaCare by 2014. The increase in Alabama will be 26.2 percent. In Georgia, the Medicaid population will explode by an estimated 41.4 percent.
And that's not the worst of it. The Medicaid population will rise by almost 57 percent in Texas and by nearly 67 percent in Nevada.
Is it any wonder that so many states are balking at taking any steps legislatively that would give even a subtle suggestion that they find ObamaCare an acceptable approach to health care?
Coupled with the uncertainty of a soon-coming Supreme Court decision that may strike down this ruinous, liberty-crushing law, Tennessee and other states are well advised not to rush into the ObamaCare debacle.
"No one wants to invest a lot of money in a concept when we're not sure that, coming July 1, after the Supreme Court has made its decision, whether we have to deal with it or not," state Sen. Bo Watson reasonably observed in the Times Free Press. "My understanding is that we are fine and there is no need to be too urgent."
Except, perhaps, when it comes to the urgent need to see this law overturned by the high court or repealed by Congress.
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