Decision Day: Governor Speaking to Legislature Tomorrow on ObamaCare



Gov. Bill Haslam will speak to a joint session of the legislature tomorrow morning to announce whether the state should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to reports. If he's making a big deal about it, his answer probably is yes, and he will use his speech as the first step in selling it to lawmakers. If his answer is no, why would he bother to make a speech at all? A simple statement to the media would do the job.

If Haslam is recommending expanding Medicaid, he's betting that he can use his personal popularity to overcome the Republican supermajority's visceral opposition to ObamaCare. It would be the first real test of Haslam's political skills as governor. To reporters, he talked about this a little bit yesterday.

“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.”

Update: Possibly foretelling Haslam's decision, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry has come out in favor of Medicaid expansion. The Chamber's statement:

After much research and deliberation, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry is joining with other business groups in supporting the proposed Medicaid expansion in Tennessee provided that the expansion is reevaluated after an initial three-year period.

There are a number of long-term and substantial policy decisions surrounding Medicaid expansion that if not appropriately addressed cause the business community great concern. Many of our concerns are based around the substantial effect the Affordable Care Act has placed on health care companies, employers and individuals.

Our position is based upon maintaining a sound economic climate for the state while focusing on the overall quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans that will have health care coverage under the proposed Medicaid expansion. Health care in Tennessee constitutes a substantial economic impact benefiting our overall economy. This impact is not only from hospitals, but also health care companies and entrepreneurs who make Tennessee a mecca for the health care industry.

For these reasons, we are part of a broad coalition that supports Medicaid expansion for Tennessee though we understand many factors must be weighed by the Governor and Legislature when making this decision.

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