First, we find out Bill Haslam isn’t really trying to impose Shariah law in Tennessee. Now, the governor is popping up on YouTube telling the truth about the Affordable Care Act. Our world is upside down.
Speaking to reporters, Haslam — or possibly a body snatcher — didn’t go on the usual Republican rant about budget-busting costs if the state agrees to expand Medicaid under the hated ObamaCare. Instead, for the first time as far as we know, he said the cost is only $100 million annually — a whopping $200 million lower than previous estimates — and he actually mentioned where it’s coming from. That’s not from beneficiaries added by the new law, but from people who already can receive Medicaid but don’t because they don’t know they can. The governor even acknowledged these beneficiaries probably will sign up for Medicaid in the next few years anyway because of publicity over the health care overhaul.
So regardless of whether the state expands Medicaid, we pay. And if we don’t opt in, we not only pay but we also lose $7 billion in federal cash and 30,000 new jobs by the end of the decade, not to mention health insurance coverage for 200,000 working poor people. Haslam didn’t detail that cost-benefit breakdown, of course, but maybe next time. Baby steps.
Meanwhile, back on Planet Nutjob — aka the Tennessee General Assembly — House Speaker Beth Harwell and her top lieutenant, Rep. Gerald McCormick, still are denouncing Medicaid expansion as a ridiculous idea.
“ObamaCare will be devastating for state budgets. It’s the wrong way for this nation to go,” Harwell tells Tennessee Report’s Andrea Zelinski.
Harwell and McCormick, both of whom supposedly are moderates, are sticking to their talking points — as opposed to the facts — for fear of arousing more enmity from the many hardliners in their caucus. The barbarians already are at the gate. The Muslim-hating, gun-toting House speaker pro tempore, Judd Matheny, is talking about challenging Harwell for the House’s top job.
Matheny tells Steven Hale he’s concerned over a lack of “fortitude” to “counter some of the forces that are coming out of Washington” and says the state “shouldn’t even be considering the expansion of the health care law.”
Progressives hope common sense will prevail when the time comes to decide what to do about the health care law. They are counting on the adults in the room doing the right thing. That's probably wishful thinking.