Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Haslam Promises Medicaid Decision This Week

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 10:50 AM

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Gov. Bill Haslam seems to be leaning toward actually making a decision on the big ObamaCare question, although he’s leaving himself a little room to punt the whole thing.

Talking to reporters yesterday, he said he will make an announcement this week and even suggested, in a bold comment for the pronasticating Haslam, that he’s supposed to make hard decisions as governor.

“The politics of it are difficult,” he said. “We’ve recognized that from the very beginning. But again, I think you’re elected to try to make the hard decisions on the big issues, and there’s no question that health care is as big an issue facing Tennessee and the country as there is, and so that’s why we’ve worked so hard to get to the right answer.”

But Haslam also complained again that he’s having a lot of trouble getting answers out of the Obama administration on expanding Medicaid. He said the experience is “not unlike the exchange decision.” You’ll recall that in that case, Haslam decided the state wouldn’t participate in the health insurance exchange—not because he thought it was a bad idea necessarily—but because he said Washington wouldn’t answer his many questions about the operation of the thing.

More of Haslam’s comments:

We should have a decision ready this week. I think this week is probably as specific as I can get at this point. We literally are still in the middle of a lot of last minute discussions with a lot of people. As I’ve said all along, this is an incredibly complex issue and every day I learn something new from the law about its impact on Tennessee, about its impact on local governments, about its impact on businesses, and I just think it’s prudent of us to make sure we learn as much as we can before we come to that decision.

Not unlike the exchange decision, we’re still trying to get a lot of answers form HHS. We’re having conversations with the today, Friday, last week. Ultimately we have to be convinced it’s the right thing for Tennessee and we’re not taking on a lot of added burden that’s going to cost us down the road.

Is it possible that Haslam will decide to wait to make this decision?

I guess that’s always a piece of the decision. Legally, because the Supreme Court said you didn’t have to expand, that means you don’t have to decide now or a year from now. What we’re working hard to say is what’s the right decision for now. We’ve been working toward the understanding that if we can come to a decision about what’s best for Tennessee, to decide that now would be better than waiting.

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