NASHVILLE -- Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said today he is undecided whether he will handle fellow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to extend health coverage to an estimated 200,000 low-income Tennesseans.
"I don't know yet," Norris told reporters today. "First, I've got to finish reading what we received last week. Then got to talk with the administration's liaisons, his staff and presumably with the governor himself, which I look forward to doing when he's available and when I'm available."
Majority leaders usually carry a governor's package of bills when they are of the same party.
Norris' indecision -- he says he needs more details -- illustrates the potential obstacles Haslam faces in trying to persuade fellow Republicans to approve a two-year Medicaid waiver that the governor can then take to the Obama administration as he seeks their approval of his "market-driven" approach to Medicaid expansion.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said he intends to introduce Haslam's resolution for his Insure Tennessee proposal during the Feb. 2 special session in which the GOP-dominated General Assembly will consider it.
"I am sponsoring it in the House," McCormick said. "I think it's the majority leader's job to sponsor the bills in the House. I've done all of them before and I don't want to stop now. And I think if you look at the plan overall it's a common-sense solution to a problem that we have and we can't get out of it."
McCormick said the people who would be helped don't have any coverage and are showing up in hospital emergency rooms, getting the care and not being able to pay for it.
"We're already paying for these services just in a different way," McCormick said. "It makes more sense to do it this way. Somebody's got to carry it and it may as well be the majority leader."