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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

JACKSON, Tn. - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam today sought to reassure nervous GOP lawmakers in West Tennessee that his administration will legally be able to walk away from his proposed "market driven" pilot project to insure 200,000 Tennesseans with federal Medicaid dollars should it prove unworkable.

"I wanted to make certain that we had a way that if, for whatever reason, we weren't making an irrevocable decision, and we can get that guaranteed with folks from HHS or CMS to do that," Haslam told six Republican and two Democratic House and Senate members at a meeting in Jackson.

He was referring to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.

The meeting at West Tennessee Healthcare's Jackson-Madison County Memorial Hospital was Haslam's first public forum with lawmakers and hospital officials as he kicked off a series of nine meetings across the state to promote his Insure Tennessee program.

Haslam has called the state Legislature into a special session on Feb. 2 to consider his plan, which if he gets approval will be submitted to federal officials in the form of a waiver of federal Medicaid rules.

A number of his fellow Republicans in the GOP-dominated General Assembly are balking with many saying they are undecided. Some have come right out in opposition. 

Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.

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