NASHVILLE - Opponents rallied Sunday at the state Capitol Sunday against expanding TennCare to an estimated 182,700 people under the federal health care law, hoping to pressure Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and GOP legislative leaders to reject any such move.
"We can't fight this alone," state Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, told the tea party and libertarian crowd of 100 to 125 people assembled on Legislative Plaza. "I'm here to ask you to help us by making your voices loud and clear to the legislators that we don't want Obamacare in Tennessee."
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., a Jasper physician, delivered a critique of the 2010 health care law. Speaking to reporters afterward, he said expanding Medicaid "sounds good."
"But if it's not sustainable, it's kind of almost cruel to give somebody something only to know it's probably going to be taken away sooner than later" because of federal spending and deficits, DesJarlais said. He cited the impact in 2005 when then-Gov. Phil Bredesen slashed 170,000 people from TennCare rolls to control costs.
While hospitals and advocates for the poor argue that federal dollars paid by Tennesseans will simply go to other states if the state doesn't expand TennCare, DesJarlais said, "I'd like to think think that Tennessee would like to lead from the aspect of being responsible."
House and Senate committees are expected to hear testimony about the expansion Tuesday.
For complete coverage, see Monday's Times Free Press.