NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says fellow Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey has agreed to delay consideration of a bill seeking to ban the state from participating in Medicaid expansion under the federal health care overhaul.
Ramsey said at a legislative preview session hosted by The Associated Press and the Tennessee Press Association on Thursday that Kelsey agreed to take his bill off notice to give the governor more time to consider an expansion.
"I think after I talked to Brian he understood that, and he said we can delay this to see what answers we can get from the federal government, so it's not dropped per se, it's just a delay. Well, it's off notice right now. Whether I can say it's permanent or not who knows," said Ramsey.
The Lieutenant Governor has agreed to give Governor Bill Haslam more time to study the impact on Tennessee.
"I think there are some people that feel really strongly like we shouldn't expand Medicaid. And so they would like to pass that. I personally think we're better off doing our homework first," said Governor Haslam.
Kelsey, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an earlier panel discussion that he doesn't believe the federal government will keep its word on funding no less than 90 percent of the added costs.
"We know that the federal government is going to have to cut its spending and with the 90 percent matching rate I think this is will be likely one of the first place the federal government looks to cut its spending," said Kelsey.
But Gordon Bonnyman, executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, stressed that Tennessee could withdraw from the expanded Medicaid program at any time.
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