Haslam Says No To State Health Insurance Exchange - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Haslam Says No To State Health Insurance Exchange

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Governor Bill Haslam announced Monday Tennessee will not create a state-run health insurance exchange.

Haslam said the lack of information from the federal government about the insurance marketplaces was "scary" and that he considered it a business decision to let the federal government run the program.

"It's just a matter of do you want to go into partnership if they're not giving you all the information. None of us, if this was our business, would make that decision," the Governor said.

Haslam acknowledged that getting a state-run exchange approved by the Legislature would be a difficult prospect.

Many Republican lawmakers ran for office on a platform of opposing President Barack Obama's health care plan. Tea party supporters protested the idea of a state-run exchange outside the Capitol last week, deriding it as "Haslamcare."

The Governor maintained political pressure did not play a role in his administration's decision to opt out of the state-run program.

"I knew what the politics were of this decision seven, eight months ago. I can assure you, while we listen to everybody, in the end we made what we think it the right decision," Haslam said.

The leader of Tennessee's democratic party said the Governor's decision caused Tennessee to miss out on an unique opportunity.

"The Governor clearly has not demonstrated leadership in this moment when should have stepped up and said Tennessee will set up its own exchange," according to Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester.

The party chairman said Tennessee is home to the most innovative healthcare companies in the nation and they could have played a role in designing a state-run exchange.

"This would have allowed Tennessee to experiment with new ideas, with the most innovative companies in the country, yet Bill Haslam didn't have the leadership to step up and allow us to do," Forrester said.

Despite the Governor's insistence that politics did not play a role in this decision, Forrester believed political pressure from the right had an influence.

"Bill Frist, a republican senator and former senate majority leader, said we need to have a state exchange. He's not even listening to the best minds in his own party. He's listening to the far-fringe of the right wing," said Forrester.

Governor Haslam said he believed 15 to 20 states my exercise the option to start locally-run healthcare exchange programs.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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