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Ultimately, the absence of a clear, written agreement between the federal government and the State of Tennessee made passage impossible.

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How they voted:

Against Insure Tennessee: Mike Bell (R), Janice Bowling (R), Todd Gardenhire (R), Frank Nicely (R), Brian Kelsey (R), Kerry Roberts (R), and Rusty Crowe (R)

For Insure Tennessee: Richard Briggs (R), Becky Massey (R), Ed Jackson (R), and Jeff Yarbro (D).

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Republican Gov. Bill Haslam addresses state lawmakers at the state Capitol in Nashville on Feb. 2, 2015.
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David Jones of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and other opponents of Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal watch a committee hearing on a television in the legislative office complex in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. Haslam has said the program would cover 280,000 low-income Tennesseans using money available under President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
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Governor Bill Haslam answers questions from legislators about his Insure Tennessee plan which could expand Medicare to thousands of people in the state. Governor Haslam spoke while visiting the Cherokee Health Systems office in downtown Chattanooga on Wednesday, January 28, 2015.
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Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is greeted by lawmakers as he leeaves the House chamber in Nashville in this Feb. 2, 2015, file photo.
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Republican Gov. Bill Haslam addresses state lawmakers at the state Capitol in Nashville on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015.
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Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is greeted by lawmakers as he enters the House chamber in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Haslam spoke to a joint assembly of the General Assembly to promote his Insure Tennessee proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income residents.
NASHVILLE — Republicans, red-shirted activists and free-market advocates cheered while Democrats, hospital groups and some nonprofits bemoaned the death of Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal at the hands of a state Senate's Health committee, which voted 7-4 against the proposal before it could be brought to the floor for a vote. 

Area Sens. Todd Gardenhire, of Chattanooga, and Mike Bell, of Riceville, were among those who voted 'no' on Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal. So was Sen. Janice Bowling, of Tullahoma, who was thought to be the swing vote. All are Republicans.

Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey explained in a statement that "while many questions have been answered during this special session, several questions remain unanswered."

Meanwhile, the resolution's House sponsor, Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, went before the House Insurance and Banking Committee, where the measure was shelved in light of the Senate's action.

Democrats objected, but Republican Chairman Steve McManus, R-Cordova, ordered it taken off notice. 

McCormick, who on Tuesday said there were enough votes to pass the measure on the House floor, said he was disappointed the resolution failed. He said he told Haslam earlier the bill did not have adequate support.

"He was disappointed but understands the process," McCormick said.

McCormick defended the legislature's committee system, where bills can be killed by a handful of people, saying, "if we did not have a committee system, this place would not function."

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said he will try to bring the resolution back later this afternoon. He said the committee system had failed, with House Republican Speaker Beth Harwell deciding there weren't enough votes for the resolution.

"The Senate let seven people decide for 6 1/2 million people that 300,000 people wouldn't receive health insurance," Fitzhugh said. "That's not the way it's supposed to work. I don't care who's running the railroad."


Shortly after the bill died in committee, Ramsey explained why lawmakers rejected it.

"Ultimately, the absence of a clear, written agreement between the federal government and the State of Tennessee made passage impossible," said Ramsey. "Tennessee has always been a well-run, fiscally-responsible state. We could not in good conscience put our stamp of approval on a mere verbal agreement with the Obama administration."

Americans for Prosperity in Tennessee, part of a nationwide free-market nonprofit that sent 200 activists from across the state to oppose the measure, claimed victory on behalf of Tennessee's taxpayers. 

"We couldn't have done this without our grassroots activists showing up to hold their legislators accountable," said Andrew Ogles, Tennessee director of of Americans for Prosperity. "Thank you for listening to your constituents and voting to stop Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in Tennessee.

The Beacon Center, a free-market think tank, applauded the death of a bill that it joined Americans for Prosperity in calling an "extension of Obamacare in our state."

"While stopping the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare was a necessary first step, it is still our responsibility as Tennesseans to find affordable healthcare solutions for our most vulnerable neighbors," said Beacon CEO Justin Owen.

Instead, the nonprofit supports "right-to-try" legislation that it says would allow terminally ill patients access to potentially life-saving drugs. 


But the shouts of joy from the right were equaled by those on the left who believed the bill was Tennessee's best hope to fix the problems caused by hundreds of thousands of uninsured residents.  

The Tennessee Hospital Association, which had backed the bill, said it was "extremely disappointed" by the Senate's action. 

"It offered a practical, commonsense solution that worked for our state," Craig Becker, president of the Tennessee Hospital Association, said in a news release. "Hospitals, along with community and business partners, have fought tirelessly in recent months to urge support for Insure Tennessee by state lawmakers and I am proud of our efforts."

Hospitals were set to benefit by having more Tennesseans covered, thereby reducing the amount of free care they are forced to provide to uninsured patients without the ability to pay for treatment.

"Unfortunately, seven members of the Senate Health Committee decided that this plan did not benefit the public health of our state," Burchfield said.

U.S. Rep Jim Cooper, who represents Tennessee's fifth district, went a step further, blasting Republicans and blaming them for the future deaths of hospital patients. 

"Tennesseans will die and hospitals will close as a result of our cruel state legislature," Cooper said in a news release. "Rarely in state history have we seen such a devastating lack of leadership."

State Sen. Jeff Yarbro, the Democratic member of the Senate Health Committee, called the vote "disheartening."

Yarbro tangled today with Sen. Todd Gardenhire, of Chattanooga, as the Health Committee debated the resolution.

"Lawmakers have spent two years trying to find a solution to expand access to health care in our state, but it took only two days for the legislature to vote it down," Yarbro said. "Democrats will continue to make the case for expanding access to affordable health insurance in Tennessee. We will continue to work with the governor and with common-sense members of both parties to move past politics and do what's right for Tennesseans."

In a statement released late Wednesday, the AARP mourned the death of a bill that it said could have provided health care to 200,000 Tennesseans who don't currently have it. 

"Governor Haslam presented us with a unique opportunity to take care of our own," said Tara Shaver, interim communications director for the nonprofit. "We regret that some members of his own party were not willing to put politics aside and do what was fair and just for the people of Tennessee."

Earlier today, state House Speaker Beth Harwell hinted that she didn't believe there were enough House votes to pass the resolution either.

A state House committee was expected to take up the bill this afternoon.

But both the Republican-controlled House and Senate later voted to adjourn the special session to consider Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal.

Senators approved the resolution on a voice vote. In the House, Fitzhugh first objected to the withdrawal of the resolution, but was overruled as out of order by Harwell, and it passed.

McCormick then moved to adjourn. The vote was 71-25.


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