Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today released the following statement in response to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's decision not to operate a state-based healthcare exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act. An integral part of the Affordable Care Act includes the creation of health care exchanges to establish a marketplace for the purchase of affordable health insurance plans. States were meant to tailor their specific needs to a state-based exchange, but those who opt out will be obligated to have the federal government run an exchange for them:
"I am deeply disappointed by Governor Haslam's decision not to pursue and operate a state-based healthcare exchange. It is obvious politics played a substantial part in the Governor's decision. That is obvious from the reference he made to opposing the President's election and his being disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. By vetoing this measure, Governor Haslam has surrendered the chance for Tennessee to establish an exchange program tailored to Tennessee's specific needs. All but two states that haven't established a state-based exchange are red states or have Republican Governors. This decision should have been based on the welfare of the citizenry. Plenty of other states have formed state-based exchanges without using the excuse that they didn't have enough information or guidance from the federal government.
"Not since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have states tried to resist laws that were crafted to make our country a more perfect union. When political winds cool, I am confident that Tennessee will form its own healthcare exchange. But when it does, Tennessee will have forfeited the up to $80 million dollars it would have received from the federal government if it had established the exchange now in the first place by 2014. I fear this is a foreshadowing of the Medicaid expansion decision that Governor Haslam will have to make soon and that Tennessee will lose out on many more millions of federal dollars and tens of thousands of citizens will be denied healthcare. The interests of the citizenry will eventually win out. Governor Haslam's decision to veto our state's health care exchange squandered Tennessee's right to self determination and has put the state in a position where we can no longer construct a plan that fits our healthcare needs."