With the Republican plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare dead in Washington for now, at least four states that previously rejected Medicaid expansion – Kansas, Maine, North Carolina and Virginia – have moves afoot to reconsider the idea.

Tennessee Democrats would like to see the Volunteer State become the fifth, reports WPLN, but Gov. Bill Haslam says it’s too early. In 2015, Haslam proposed a Medicaid expansion plan, dubbed Insure Tennessee, that was killed by the Legislature.

Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday he is not currently considering another legislative special session to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

“The sooner the better, so we can begin collecting and allowing up to 300- or 400-hundred thousand people to be covered under Medicaid,” says House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

Fitzhugh proposes repealing a state law that requires the legislature to sign off on Medicaid expansion. That would free up Governor Bill Haslam to negotiate a plan with the Trump administration. (Note: It’s HB846, on notice for the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee next week.)

Haslam says he’s instructed TennCare officials to review their options. But it’s too soon to come up with a plan.

“I think it’s early. I mean, we literally just had, Friday, the country took a change of direction no one was expecting,” he says.

Haslam adds it’s probably too late in the legislative session to propose an expansion plan this year. Lawmakers are likely to adjourn around the end of April, and the administration has focused on passing the state budget and a road-funding plan.

Further, from The Tennessean:

“The reality is healthcare and changing healthcare is a lot more difficult than it looks,” Haslam said. “It’s a lot easier to say we’re going to end this than it is to say here’s what we’re going to replace it with.”

…”I think I’m with most Americans – nobody is sure what’s going to happen next. I think we’re waiting to see if Washington just pushes this aside now and go onto other issues, which every indication I’ve gotten is that’s what will happen,” he said… “Obviously the world kind of changed from the direction it was pointing in Friday. We have not had those conversations,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, Congressman Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., called for Tennessee lawmakers to pass Medicaid expansion.

““It’s time to stop the bickering, help our neighbors and pass Insure Tennessee. There is no excuse for inaction,” Cooper said.

UPDATE: And, Politico has this Tennessee note in a national roundup story on recent Medicaid expansion discussions.

In Tennessee, two years after Republican Gov. Bill Haslam failed to rally support for Medicaid expansion, a handful of key state lawmakers are considering a plan to phase in coverage to more low-income adults. State Rep. Cameron Sexton, who chairs the House’s health care committee, said Monday they will restart discussions about their plan now that Obamacare isn’t under threat of immediate repeal.

The first phase would only expand coverage to adults with serious mental health and substance abuse issues.

“Would Tennessee do a full expansion? Probably not,” Sexton said. “I’m not sure Tennessee’s quite there yet.”

 

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