Healthcare activists say they will continue protesting at the Capitol until the state expands Medicaid. A group called Moral Movement Tennessee talked to reporters Monday, about a week after 11 people were arrested during a sit-in at Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
The group implored him to call a special session to expand state healthcare coverage, saying more than 280,000 in Tennessee would receive healthcare if Medicaid was expanded. Haslam's office told the Tennessean he was out of town when the sit-in occurred and declined to comment.
Ellen McPherson, 75, was one of the 11 arrested last week. The former nurse says she believes the refusal to expand Medicaid is a moral issue.
"It hurts my heart that they won't call a special session to expand Medicaid," she says. "It would mean so much to these people. It doesn't seem fair that the legislatures are covered with insurance but they won't cover all these people."
Haslam proposed a Medicaid expansion bill in 2015. The bill did not make it to the floor after the state Senate Health and Welfare Committee vetoed it 7-4.
Discussions surrounding Medicaid expansion have resurfaced nationwide after the House GOP failed to get enough votes to pass an Obamacare replacement.
Now, many majority-Republican state legislatures, including Michigan and Ohio, have plans to expand their Medicaid programs. But lawmakers in Tennessee have seemed reluctant to increase coverage.
In a press conference last month, Haslam said before a bill to expand coverage can be drafted, everyone would "need to be on the same page with something that will actually pass and work in the states."