Gov. Bill Haslam: Will make Medicaid decision during current legislative session

Gov. Bill Haslam: Will make Medicaid decision during current legislative session

February 7th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam answers questions during a meeting with the Times Free Press editorial board.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam says he wants to decide during the current legislative session whether expand Medicaid to an estimated 181,000 low-income Tennesseans under the federal Affordable Care Act.

"Any decision we make, I promise you, we're going to get the Legislature to approve," the Republican told reporters today. "We'd love to decide that prior to their leaving. It just makes it neater."

Haslam spoke after a luncheon address to the Tennessee Press Association and The Associated Press' annual winter meeting.

Earlier, Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told reporters that Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Collierville, has agreed to delay pushing his bill to bar Tennessee from expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law.

He spoke after a panel discussion on the Medicaid expansion. Ramsey said he told Kelsey that Haslam needs time to explore the pros and cons of whether expanding Medicaid makes sense for the state.

During the panel discussion Kelsey, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned whether the federal government can continue to fund at least 90 percent of the Medicaid expansion given federal budget problems and debt.

Tennessee hospital officials say the national hospital industry struck a deal with President Barack Obama on the health care law. The industry agreed to give up special federal payments for uncompensated care on the understanding that more people would be covered under Medicaid and other insurance programs.