Haslam rejects federal partnership in running insurance exchange

Friday, February 15, 2013 at 5:26pm

Gov. Bill Haslam announced late last year he was uninterested in Tennessee running a health insurance exchange on its own but put in writing Friday that he will also pass on running the system in tandem with the feds.

The governor said the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services is still short on details about how managing the insurance exchange would work, he wrote in a letter to Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Friday.

“Ultimately, the partnership option does not address the concerns I have about aggressive federal timelines, a lack of true flexibility for states and misguided federal policies,” read the letter.

After months of weighing his options and hearing his Republican colleagues’ call that he keep his distance from programs associated with so-called “Obamacare,” Haslam decided in December the state would not run the health insurance exchange. He said at the time the federal government hasn’t given him enough confidence, information or control necessary to buy into running the program.

While the governor rejected the state running the health insurance exchange by itself, the state had until today to decide whether to enter into a partnership. His letter sent Friday stated he would pass on a partnership running the exchange for the same reason.

The exchanges are meant to be virtual marketplaces like Expedia where people and small businesses can comparison shop for insurance. The exchanges must be set up later this year for use by 2014.

The governor has yet to decide whether he will expand the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare, under the Affordable Care Act. He told reporters last week he plans to make that call by the time lawmakers adjourn this spring.

Letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius 2-15-2013.pdf121.29 KB

22 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 2/16/13 at 7:23

I can hear the echoes of Jeff Davis in Haslam's arrogant defiance of "misguided federal policies" and in his passionate demand for "true flexibility for states".

The born-again Southern Governor must have missed the part in the Pledge of Allegiance that affirms the fact that we are one nation, indivisible....he supports the "under God" phrase in the pledge, but not the one indivisible nation concept...he's a states rights throwback to the ante bellum period.

When states arbitrarily refuse to comply with federal law, their statehood ought to be subject to review. Never mind secession...how about expulsion?

For the good of the people who reside in TN, it might be best to declare the place a federally administered US territory....pull the cord on this grandstanding rebel state before the cancer spreads.

By: BellevueBill on 2/16/13 at 8:01

Loner, my opinion on the Affordable Health Care Act is beside the point.

But, are you a visitor or resident of Nashville. If, you are a resident, apparently we offer more than the non rebel states.

By: falcon69 on 2/16/13 at 9:26

Ms Zelinski left out one very important fact in her editorial. It doesn't matter what Gov Haslam does or does not want concerning Obamacare. The state congress has the final say on what we do or do not except. He is not our dictator! Pretty important point to leave out, true and our congress [in my opinion] will never except any of it.

By: joe41 on 2/16/13 at 10:59

This will prove to be a big mistake on behalf of many Tennesseans. But then Haslam doesn't care about those Tennesseans.

By: amyinsparta on 2/16/13 at 11:57

I've never understood why people who purport to believe in Jesus and want "In God we trust" on every state building and school, have such a hard time doing the very things Jesus says will save them. I suppose they think if they are dunked, that erases all sin and so they can then can do as they please- tote their guns while fearing everything and everyone, keep young girls from doing with their bodies as they see fit, then condemning them and their children to a life of deprivation, advocating murder by endorsing all wars and the death penalty, hating on people not white skinned, and on and on. It must be nice to have a god made in one's own image. You get to hate as you will and think you will go to heaven. What a deal! I have a feeling though, that someone is going to be in for one big surprise when they leave their body and ascend or descend according to their works. By grace you are saved, but by by loving kindness to all living do you KNOW that you are ONE. "Do unto others as you would they do to you", "Love one another", "God is LOVE", "Forgive 70 times 7", "By your works you shall be known" are not commands to be disregarded. You can put all the words in God's mouth that you wish, but they won't get you to heaven, at least not this time around.

By: courier37027 on 2/16/13 at 2:42

Oh happy day, my insurance premiums will now decrease...not.

By: ancienthighway on 2/16/13 at 6:16

Haslam is just doing what the people that put him in office want him to do. You know those wealthy people heavily invested in insurance and health care.

By: pswindle on 2/16/13 at 9:13

The people of TN has been the loser everyday that Haslam as been governor. I thought that TN would wake up, but I have no hope anymore. TN is brainwashed by the churches, Tea Party,an d a bunch of crazies. I want to say one more thing about abortion: The so called people of faith do not want abortions, but once the children are here ,they don't believe in providing for them either.

By: Badbob on 2/17/13 at 6:35

One has to wonder how many dollars of food stamps and government supported health care are given to the employees of every Pilot and Flying J gas stations and truck stops.

The most amazing aspect is that the citizens of this state elect these fools who slap the citizens in the face.

By: Ask01 on 2/17/13 at 11:27

I have to agree, amyinsparta.

I've always wondered at the mindset of people who profess to be Christian, but behave in ways Jesus himself would have shunned.

They continually preach forgiveness, forebearance, and charity, but fall miserably short of the actual practice. I've often wondered how many of the slobbering maniacs advocating the death penalty and celebrating every execution were the same ones becoming emotional talking about Christ's message of forgiveness the previous Sunday?

Of course, some of these are descended from the same people who used the Bible itself to justify holding slaves.

By: courier37027 on 2/17/13 at 12:31

On the other side of the Jesus coin, I find it ironic those who wish to keep Jesus out of public debate, public view, and not force Him on others paradoxically want the Savior as example of charity and providence when a social program is at stake. You can't spit on Him then expect (with apologies to Ricky Bobby) Game Show Jesus to show up and hand out everything to everybody.

By: dogmrb on 2/18/13 at 10:23

What is a "state congress", and except and accept have opposite meanings?!

By: GUARDIAN on 2/18/13 at 12:50

Thank you Governor... GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: Not So Fast on 2/18/13 at 1:22

It seems perfectly reasonable that if the federal government expects the states to administer a major pillar of their healthcare "reform" law that they at least provide the guidance necessary to do so.

Since the feds have failed on this point, it seems the prudent thing would be to let the federal government run the exchange, which was always an option in the PPACA, not the result of the Supreme Court's decision.

Additionally, it seems pretty silly to criticize the governor for being a "states' rights throwback" in reaction to the news that he is going to allow the federal government to administer the program, rather than the state.

By: wasaw on 2/18/13 at 8:57

Does it appear to anyone else that the feds are attempting to pull the same scam on the states that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid pulled on the U. S. Senate and Congress? Doesn't everyone remember Mrs. Pelosi's famous statement, "We've got to pass this so we can learn what's in it."

So fella's, how does the old saying go? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Why would the good governor of Tennessee opt our state more deeply into a federal social health insurance program that's doomed to fail?

By: dogmrb on 2/18/13 at 10:12

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —President George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

By: James Arthur on 2/19/13 at 8:32

There are a lot negative comments from commenters who plainly don't understand--

@Loner, Gov. Haslam hasn't defied any law. Congress has no ability to compel states, they have to entice them.
@Courier, Obamacare costs more. It forces you to buy more insurance--that costs more. Premiums will go up regardless, because of that.
@psswindle, how exactly do you think the people of Tennessee have been harmed by Gov. Haslam's choice? They haven't been harmed in the least, they'll benefit. Haslam is staying out of a horrendously expensive, doomed program. It's a wise choice, and not an easy one given all the pressure he's under.

It's really unfortunate to see such nasty, wrong things said--and so personal. Obamacare puts us all in a bad situation, and forces choices between a lot of bad alternatives.

At bottom, our worst healthcare problem was cost, and Obamacare's about to make that a lot worse. Kudos to Haslam for making some difficult, right choices.

By: Left-of-Local on 2/19/13 at 10:12

What a jackass. It would not do any harm for him to allow the state to participate, but instead of being a TRUE supported of free markets, like his idiot GOP platform claims to be, he blocks it. He is the puppet of Ron Ramsey. End of story.

By: Moonglow1 on 2/19/13 at 10:44


Of course he rejects the health exchanges. Haslam is a follower of ALEC (American Leglislative Exchange Council) and he will not go against the Tea-funded organization. He is in lock step with them every step of the way.

However, if Nashville is truely the "Health Care Capital" of the nation, what a missed opportunity to develop a model of healthcare. Obviously, the reason why the Medical Mart never got off the ground is because smart entrepreneurs don't see Nashville as a "Health Care Capital." They view Nashville as the "Gun Capital" of the Nation. Certainly not for innovation, intelligence, and ground breaking research!

By: James Arthur on 2/19/13 at 2:44

@Left-of-Local Yes, actually, there's a tremendous amount of harm in agreeing to a program that you have pay for, that you can't back out of, and which someone else controls.

Would you agree to pay for a car without knowing the price, the terms, or the car? On terms that Congress can and will change in the future? Of course not.

If you think you can do a better job, make a more virtuous, more affordable, more equitable insurance company, why not do it? Instead of taking from others what they've built--something they value and like--and destroying it, why not make something beautiful?

By: pswindle on 2/19/13 at 4:17

When all of Obamacare kicks in (2014), insurance premiums will go down and each individual will receive better care. The GOP and the insurance companies have fought this because it will hurt their bottom line. Anything will be better than what we now have. The insurance companies decide what they will pay for and not pay for. The premiums are now going up because the insurance companies are getting the last drop of increased before they are reined in . The GOP has made such a big deal about Obamacare because their money change will be less. Obamacare puts the healthcare back in the hands of the doctors and patients. Go and read the whole Obamacare policy and I believe you will like what you read. Unless you have read the whole policy, you are hollowing in the wind.

By: ConservativeSailor on 2/19/13 at 5:13

Hey, Loner. Read the Constitution.
The Tenth Amendment reads:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
While the Pledge, with or without "under God" is an oath of affirmation, the Constitution is the Law of the Land. Article 6.
Nowhere in the Constitution is the Federal Government (any Branch) granted power over Health Insurance, Education or much other power it has taken.
The Court used the law to look at Obamacare because the "penalty was not called a tax". Otherwise it was prohibited from looking at the penalty as constitutional. Then it stated that because the penalty was administered by the IRS, it WAS a tax that falls within the power of the Congress to levy.
The Executive may fill up any vacancies that occur in offices that require the Senate's advice AND 2/3 consent when the Senate is not in session. But the NLRB vacancies did not happen while the Senate was in recess.
The Congress created the Federal Reserve, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Medicare Part D without any power to do so granted by the Constitution.
We need an Article V Convention called by the States. Look it up.
You should read the Declaration starting about where it says "When, in the Course of Current Events [...]". Depending on 2014's election, the Tree of Liberty may need watering again.