Haslam’s “Good Faith” Issue 

Insure Tennessee is more than mere politics.

click to enlarge haslam.jpg

As chronicled elsewhere, Governor Bill Haslam began this week of legislative special session in Nashville with the challenge of persuading reluctant members of his Republican Party to suspend their aversion

to what they call Obamacare and accept his home-grown version of Medicaid expansion called Insure Tennessee.

Prior discussions of the matter in the media have focused almost entirely on the mechanics of the plan or the political matters at stake or the financial incentives available to Tennessee (and its hard-pressed hospitals) should the General Assembly opt to give its statutorily necessary approval to the proposal. Those financial stakes are large indeed, amounting to somewhere between $1 billion and $2 billion annually. But the political obstacles are large, as well: GOP talking points against Obamacare (the vernacular name for the Affordable Care Act) are so well established that the governor's arguments for Insure Tennessee had to be couched in terms that drew the broadest possible distinctions between his Tennessee variant and the federal act.

Accordingly, Haslam made much of marketplace methodologies embedded in Insure Tennessee — including an alternative plan-within-the-plan for vouchers to pay for private insurance, as well as requirements for co-pays and modest premiums for those new insurees opting for coverage under TennCare (Tennessee's version of Medicaid). And the governor catered to home-state Republican sensitivities by adding an anecdote to his prepared speech involving his past entreaties to President Obama, along with those of other Republican governors, to allow Medicare funding to be dispensed to the states via block grants for the states to dispense as they wished.

But much of the governor's speech was taken up, too, with appeals to the legislators' hearts as well as to their heads. Opponents of Insure Tennessee have been shedding crocodile tears at the plan's provision for discontinuing Insure Tennessee after two years if either the federal government or the Tennessee Hospital Association default on promised funding. That would drop thousands of new insurees from coverage, the critics say. To this, Haslam offered the common-sense rebuttal that two years of coverage are significantly better than no health-care coverage at all.

And he offered his listeners a real-world anecdote about a Tennessean whose stroke, resulting from his inability to afford health insurance, had "landed him in the hospital, followed by rehabilitation" and taken him out of the workforce. "He was a hard-working Tennessean who wasn't able to get the care he needed on the front end and that has real consequences for him and his family. Having a stroke wasn't only devastating to him and his family, it could have been prevented, and not preventing it is costly to all of us."

The governor then, having argued facts and savings and marketplace models, laid the matter to rest on the bedrock issues of values and good will: "I think this is also an issue about who we are. My faith doesn't allow me to walk on the other side of the road and ignore a need that can be met — particularly in this case, when the need is Tennesseans who have life-threatening situations without access to health care."

Indeed. It's a matter of good faith and we agree with the Governor: That's the nub of the issue.

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

News Blog

Supreme Court Steps In on Fayette Church Matter

Intermission Impossible

Muhammad Ali Meets Stepin Fetchit at The Hattiloo Theatre

News Blog

Task Force Considers Medical Cannabis

News Blog

Trolleys Return to the Tracks for Testing

Music Blog

Jessi Zazu: In Memoriam

Beyond the Arc

Deflections: The Roster, TV Angst, and The Buy/Sell Clause

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

The Vietnam War

We Saw You

Cooper-Young Fest, Big Bugs, Art of Caring

Music Blog

Linda Heck: Bound to ExCITM tonight

Intermission Impossible

A Memory of Charles Billings

ADVERTISEMENT

Readers also liked…

  • Dear Chuck Brady ...

    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Remembering Irvin Salky: One of a Kind

    • May 18, 2017
  • Common Sense Pot Policy

    Unlike Bill Clinton, I've inhaled. So have 49 percent of all Americans, according to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Marijuana (medical or otherwise) has been decriminalized or legalized in 23 states, and measures are on the ballot to legalize it in five more states this November, including Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California (where medical pot is already legal). A recent Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans think pot should be legalized and regulated like alcohol ...
    • Aug 25, 2016
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation