New, improved TennCare

Sandra Clark
Editor

Last week we ranted about House Speaker Beth Harwell’s apparent lack of courage in not moving to expel Jeremy Durham from the House and not bringing Insure TN for a vote.

In fairness, let’s look at the flip side.

Harwell (as has Gov. Bill Haslam) has called for Durham’s resignation. She’s moved his office away from legislative staff and forced his resignation from the House Republican Caucus. The voters in his district should polish him off this summer.

The new Health Care Task Force will report back in June with a rebranded proposal. No more Medicaid expansion; no more Insure TN; no more Obamacare. Harwell will own this one and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey will be gone when it’s brought to the Legislature in 2017.

Harwell needs to show leadership, but she also needs to succeed. Since she never brought a House vote on Insure TN, all members can run for re-election without facing voter reaction to the state’s failure to draw down federal dollars to provide health care to an estimated 280,000 uninsured Tennesseans. Harwell talks about a big tent, but she’s actually provided a big skirt for House members to hide behind.

Democratic Sen. Craig Fitzhugh said the Senate committee that killed Insure TN “let seven people decide for 6.5 million people that 300,000 people wouldn’t receive health insurance. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. I don’t care who’s running the railroad.”

Now Republicans are using phrases like Rep. Harry Brooks in his wrapup newsletter: options … pilot programs … staggered implementation … individual responsibility for healthy choices … circuit breakers to limit the state’s exposure on costs … individual health savings accounts.

Add some verbs and you’ve got the report. The task force met this week. Rep. Roger Kane from Knox County is one of its four members, all Republicans.

Here’s hoping the task force devises a passable plan and the voters toss Durham. Then Harwell can serve me a plate of crow that I’ll eat with ketchup.

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