Potential Tennessee state insurance exchange unlikely

Political problems continue to offer speed bumps on the road to establishing a health insurance marketplace for the state

Insurance News

By Ryan Smith

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed health insurance exchange, Insure Tennessee, could provide healthcare to about 280,000 uninsured residents of the state. But political considerations could derail the plan, according to an opinion piece in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Writing for the News Sentinel, Dr. M. Douglas Leahy said the program was worthy of consideration.

“Right now, billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare providers in our state are flowing out of Tennessee without ever returning,” Leahy wrote. “These funds are intended to fund expansion of health insurance, and we’re not seeing that benefit here at home. … Passage of Insure Tennessee would change that. In fact, not only would those dollars come flowing back into the state, they would bring billions more in additional revenue that will directly benefit our state.”

A Vanderbilt University poll shows that 64% of Tennessee citizens support the program, but it still faces an uphill climb. Opponents call it an extension of the Affordable Care Act and say that the cost to taxpayers would be better spent somewhere else, according to a Fox 17 Nashville report. The plan failed in a senate health and welfare committee last February, and again in a commerce and labor committee three months later.

“It’s not because legislators don’t feel compelled to help the poor or the needy,” state Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) told Fox 17. “It’s because we’re trying to make sure we protect the taxpayer.”

Despite the legislature’s opposition, a poll released by MTSU showed that only 11% of Tennesseans familiar with the program oppose it, according to a WSMV News report.

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