Haslam's 'Tennessee Plan' Exists Only in His Mind

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If you were hoping Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius might look kindly on Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Tennessee Plan” for Medicaid expansion, state Sen. Brian Kelsey fixed that. When Sebelius visited Memphis Friday, the grandstanding Kelsey managed to shove the book Web Sites for Dummies into her hands and then proudly tweeted his achievement.

As you can see from this Memphis Daily News picture, Sebelius didn't think Kelsey's sophomoric stunt was so funny. Kelsey is the little rich kid everyone would love to slap. See him standing back there in the picture? He's the one looking smug.

But as it turns out, it doesn’t matter if Kelsey has upset Sebelius because, in the seven months Haslam's been talking about this, the governor actually hasn’t bothered to make a real proposal for his “Tennessee Plan,” whatever it may be.

“There are lots of conversations,” Sebelius told reporters. “I’ve talked to the governor probably three or four times directly. I know that our Medicaid staff is in close communication with the Medicaid staff here at the state. We would love to work with Tennessee around Medicaid expansion.’’

But alas, she said, “We don’t have specifics from the governor’s office.”

Can anyone doubt at this point that Haslam is running a scam? Faced with an outright rebellion from his hard right, the governor never has intended to try to expand Medicaid. He’s only pretending to negotiate with Washington. Actually, he's engaged in a political ploy to dodge responsibility for turning away billions in federal cash, damaging the state's health care industry and leaving a couple hundred thousand Tennesseans without insurance.

This is one of the sickest states in the country. What’s Haslam's solution? Healthier Tennessee! Go here for your free sticker, and let's all do a few jumping jacks this morning.

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