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Bill Calling For Referendum On InsureTN Defeated

Posted at 3:47 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 20:34:10-04

A proposal to place Republican Governor Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal before the voters in November has been defeated in a House subcommittee.

The House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee voted Wednesday to study the bill sponsored by Democratic Representative Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley after the General Assembly adjourns.

Haslam last year proposed extending health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans. The Tennessee Hospital Association had pledged to cover the entire $74 million state share of the program to draw down $2.8 billion in federal Medicaid funds over two years.

“But I think you know for our state to continue to bounce us back and forth for more than a year and leave Tennesseans holding the bag, losing the money, laying down their lives to pay for the political pandering, I think it's inexcusable. I think it's unforgivable,” said Pam Weston, a supporter of Insure Tennessee. 

But Republican lawmakers rejected Haslam's plan last year amid fears that it was too closely linked to President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

Haslam said he wants to wait and see who the next president is before deciding how to proceed.

Wednesday, Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini released the following statement:

“Today Jeremy Durham killed an Insure Tennessee bill that could have provided access to affordable healthcare to hard working women across the state. It is unbelievable that Speaker Harwell still allows him to hold that kind of power in the State House.

With his inappropriate behavior, Rep. Durham created a toxic work environment for women at the Capitol. Now, he’s denying vital and affordable healthcare access to thousands of women. His actions today are repulsive. And so is the fact that he is not being held accountable by Republican Leadership.”