Haslam 'doesn't know' what next step looks like in quest to fix Tennessee healthcare

Haslam 'doesn't know' what next step looks like in quest to fix Tennessee healthcare

February 4th, 2015 by Andy Sher in Politics State

Gov. Bill Haslam meets with lawmakers in Sparta, Tenn., on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, about his proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans. A special session to take up the matter is scheduled to begin on Monday. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)


Photo by The Associated Press/Times Free Press.


NASHVILLE - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said this afternoon he is "very disappointed" that his Insure Tennessee proposal died today in the special session of the General Assembly that he'd called to consider it.

"We made a decision today, but we didn't do anything to answer the problem," the governor told reporters in a hastily called news conference after the resolution failed by a 7-4 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate Health Committee.

"And," Haslam added, "the problem is that there are hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who need health care, who could get that in a way that doesn't cost the state anything. We have health care costs that are out of countrol in both our state and our country. And we haven't done anything to address those two issues."

While Haslam said "you're going to see us continue to focus on trying to do that," he later noted, "I don't know what the next step looks like."

After the bill failed in the Senate panel - with Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, all voting no, the Republican-controlled House  then took its version of the resolution off notice and both chambers adjourned.

Haslam said "we worked for 21 months to do just what the Legislature asked us to do: come up with a plan that solved health care issues for hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans, do it in a fiscally responsible way both for our state and our country and do that in way that could get an agreement from" federal officials. 

Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.