Gov. Bill Haslam is voicing some frustration about the prospects for health care reform following the failure of the latest plan to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Republican governor had been in favor of the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill. He says the measure would've increased spending on Medicaid in Tennessee over the next several years. It also would have given state insurance regulators more flexibility to approve cheaper plans.
But now that Senate Republicans have abandoned that idea, Haslam says he empathizes with Americans who say they're fed up with politics.
"I think the country really wants to see some progress made in Washington, and there's sense of frustration about people who just want to come in and argue the politics of it."
Meanwhile, Democrats in the Tennessee House of Representatives are calling again for a special session to extend Medicaid to a quarter-million people. House Minority Craig Fitzhugh, a West Tennessee Democrat who hopes to succeed Haslam as governor, says the path is now open for the state to accept federal aid to pay for Medicaid expansion.
"There is no practical, there is no political, there is no realistic reason why we should not expand. And that's the bottom line."
But Haslam says he sees no evidence that Republicans in the state legislature — who rejected expansion in 2015 — are any more inclined to accept it now.