Lawmakers must first tackle Insure Tennessee debate

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Memphis, TN- State lawmakers will spend the next few months debating hundreds issues to make the lives of Tennesseans better.

But for now, all that is on the back burner.

State Lawmakers can`t do anything until they tackle the Governor Bill Haslam’s Medicaid Expansion proposal, also known as Insure Tennessee, in a special session.

The governor announced the plan last month; hoping 200,000 Tennesseans lost in a coverage gap will have access to medical care, paid by federal funds.

“Early on as it stands, I`m in support of the plan,” said democrat, State Representative Antonio Parkinson of Memphis.

“You`re supporting him, but members of his own party aren`t right now,” said WREG’s Elise Preston.

“You know the governor is a smart guy. I`m sure he anticipated some of the resistance he would get from his own party,” said Parkinson.

One of the biggest republicans saying no to the plan is republican State Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown.

“The Supreme Court says we don`t have to expand government, so I don`t think we should,” said Kelsey.

Highlights of the plan put out by the governor`s office state the program won`t create new taxes here in the state. Hospitals have agreed to cover state funding if needed. If the funding by state hospitals or federal government changes, Insure Tennessee will end.

Kelsey says lawmakers need to see more details.

“No one`s seen it to my knowledge. We know for sure this plan will add to the federal debt. After that, it’s unclear who is going to pay for it,” said Kelsey.

Parkinson says this Insure Tennessee debate should be about lives, but right now it’s about politics.

“I think we need to remove the partisanship issues from this. This is about people`s lives. At the end of the day if we don`t have access to health care, some family members may die,” said Parkinson.

In the past, most special session have lasted only a couple weeks, lawmakers don`t see this one going past that.

“If the bill hasn`t passed in two weeks, I don`t see it passing,” said Kelsey.

The legislative session starts Tuesday. The special session starts February 2nd. To follow bills you are interested in, click here.


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