Haslam Discusses Healthcare Exchange Program Possibilities - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Haslam Discusses Healthcare Exchange Program Possibilities

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said residents expect a decision on a healthcare exchange program in about a week. 

Haslam addressed this question Tuesday as he fielded questions from Davidson County Republicans as a deadline nears on how Tennessee will comply with a key facet of the new federal health care law.

"We're trying to figure out what the right answer for Tennessee is," said Haslam.

The healthcare exchange mandated by the Affordable Care Act was a hot topic. A healthcare exchange is a marketplace where individuals or companies with fewer than 100 employees can shop around for health insurance from several companies.

The Haslam administration has been on the fence about whether it will recommend a state-run health insurance exchange or defer to the federal government to create the marketplace required under the law.

The Governor said his staff is still studying the issue, and trying to decide which option serves Tennessee best. He has said he leans toward having more state control, but has criticized the federal government for not being able to divulge details about how much flexibility would be granted to the state.

"We have to know there's real flexibility.  It really is a state based exchange and we have some authority over the key decisions.  The other side is we have to understand if we do that are they organized enough to really have the interchange you need between a state based exchange and a federally run program," Haslam said. 

Haslam said it appears Tennessee could run an exchange cheaper than the federal government. He said the federal government would pay for setting up the exchange.Then the cost of running either a federal exchange or state exchange will be paid by the users and the cost will be added to the premium.

"The implication is the state run exchange will do the same thing, but we could probably do it cheaper,' he explained.

Tennessee is one of 10 states yet to make a decision on the matter. The deadline is December 14.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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