Tea Party Faithful Make Medicaid Stand

Congressman Scott DesJarlais of Jasper headlined a rally Sunday protesting the expansion of TennCare as part of the Affordable Care Act. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN
Congressman Scott DesJarlais of Jasper headlined a rally Sunday protesting the expansion of TennCare as part of the Affordable Care Act. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

Libertarians and Tea Party Republicans rallied at the foot of the state capitol Sunday. They’re making a last-ditch effort to keep Governor Bill Haslam from cooperating with the White House and expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

The federal government will be paying the bill for the first three years. But Congressman Scott DesJarlais says Washington can’t afford it, and that states should refuse the money out of principle.

“I’d like to think that Tennessee would like to lead from the aspect of being responsible.”

DesJarlais spoke at the rally, which was sparsely attended. And in the crowd of around 100, most of the discontent was less with expanding Medicaid, and more with President Obama. Linda Tomasik traveled from Memphis.

“The only reason I’m hear is not to protest Obamacare. I’ll put it that way. It’s just because I don’t think he should be president.”

State lawmakers are holding hearings this week on the pros and cons of expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare.

Some Republican leaders say they’ve grown more open to the idea over the last few months. However, there is legislation to block expansion, and the bill’s sponsors say they will push for votes this week.

Blake Farmer

Blake Farmer is WPLN's assistant news director, but he wears many hats - reporter, editor and host. He covers the Tennessee state capitol while also keeping an eye on Fort Campbell and business trends, frequently contributing to national programs. Born in Tennessee and educated in Texas, Blake has called Nashville home for most of his life.
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