Republicans At Odds Over Running Insurance Exchange

Gov. Bill Haslam meets with the Republican leaders of the General Assembly after the most recent session. Image courtesy Bill Haslam/Flickr

Gov. Bill Haslam meets with the Republican leaders of the General Assembly after the most recent session. Image courtesy Bill Haslam/Flickr

Many Tennessee Republicans had hoped for a President Romney to undo the federal healthcare overhaul. Governor Bill Haslam is facing a deadline next week to say whether the state will set up its own insurance exchange, or leave it up to Washington. Republican lawmakers don’t love either option, and are split about what to do.

Exchanges are websites similar to Expedia, but for people shopping for health insurance plans vetted by the government. With control over millions of federal dollars hanging in the balance, Haslam wants the state to run its own exchange. And he needs approval from lawmakers, like Republican Senate Caucus Chair Bill Ketron.

Ketron: “We all know if the federal government comes in and runs it as opposed to the state, it’s going to cost a lot more money than us controlling our own destiny.”
McCormick: “We probably could run it more efficiently.”

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick argues a state-run exchange would be a hard sell among rank-and-file Republicans.

“The federal government is the one that set up this and quite frankly made this mess, and I think we’ll probably let them deal with it.”

Another House lawmaker argues declaring Tennessee will run its own state exchange at the deadline next week would still leave the state free to back out later.

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