NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam said today that Tennessee will not set up a state-run health insurance exchange and instead will let the federal government create the online marketplace where hundreds of thousands of residents will find insurance.
The Republican said that while he remains convinced his administration can create a better, less expensive exchange envisioned under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, the administration hasn't provided enough information on what flexibility states would have to do so.
"More and more I'm convinced they are making this up as they go," Haslam told members of the Nashville Rotary Club. "It's scary, quite frankly."
Haslam said it was a "business decision."
The governor, who had come under pressure from some Republican lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, as well as tea party activists, insisted his decision was not political.
"If it was a political decision I'd have made it months ago," Haslam said.
He later told reporters he has yet to decide whether Tennessee will go along with a major expansion of Medicaid, which the 2010 law also envisions.
Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell praised the governor's decision, saying the federal government has not been forthcoming with details and information on the specifics of how to comply with setting up a state exchange.
Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, called Haslam's move the "right decision" on the exchange.
He encouraged Haslam to "reject the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, as well. Tennesseans know firsthand what the devastating consequences will be based on the TennCare debacle."
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.