Moderate Republicans may have kept Tennessee’s Governor from having his hands tied regarding Medicaid expansion. They voted with Democrats Tuesday on the powerful Senate Finance Committee to leave the state’s options open.
The bill sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) started last year as an effort to block Tennessee from accepting federal money associated with the Affordable Care Act meant to cover hundreds of thousands of the working poor.
The Haslam Administration opposed Kelsey’s first bill. So the proposal was watered down a couple of times to the point that it just required the governor to get the legislature’s OK before expanding Medicaid, which he said he would do anyway.
Still, Sen. Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) says he worries about somehow hamstringing the state’s Medicaid program in the process.
“I’m growing increasingly concerned about unintended consequences,” he said Tuesday, quickly following up that he resists “any implication” that he supports the President’s health care law.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said almost every Republican opposes the Affordable Care Act at some level, but he doesn’t want to “interfere” with the state’s existing Medicaid program just to make a political statement.