Interview: Haslam On ‘Threading The Needle’ With Medicaid Expansion

Interview: Haslam On ‘Threading The Needle’ With Medicaid Expansion

Governor Bill Haslam thought he’d have a proposal to offer the legislature by now to expand Medicaid. But because a plan had to be on Tennessee’s terms, it has yet to surface. He now hopes to get something to lawmakers next year, and he’ll be working with a General Assembly that has more Republicans than ever — 101 of the 132 seats are held by GOP legislators.

“That’s 101 people all of whom have probably run a campaign — I’m willing to bet somewhere in that campaign they’ve said I think the Affordable Care Act —- aka Obamacare — is a bad plan,” Haslam said. “What we have to come up with is a plan that says this is not really expanding Medicaid as contemplated by the Obama administration. We think there’s a different way to do this.”

In broad strokes, Haslam has proposed a plan that would give the working poor who would become eligible for coverage some “skin in the game,” like requiring the payment of small insurance premiums. The trouble is getting such a proposal to fly with federal authorities, Haslam said.

“The folks in Washington who were part of designing that plan that we’re saying we’d like a little different way to do this that we think is better for our citizens, for our state, and oh yeah, we think it might be better for the country too. That’s threading a needle.”

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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