Gov. Haslam calls health insurance exchange ‘ill-defined’

Gov. Haslam calls health insurance exchange 'ill-defined' (Image 1)

One day after telling Tennessee why he decided to let the federal government run medical insurance exchanges mandated by President Obama's health care law, Governor Bill Haslam went on national TV with his explanation.

During a three-minute interview just before Noon, the governor reiterated much of what he has been saying leading up to Monday's announcement at the downtown Nashville Rotary Club.

“In the end, [the Federal Health and Human Service Department] could not answer our questions,” Mr. Haslam told Fox show “Happening Now.”

The governor's remarks are despite what he called “820 pages of rules from them in the last two to three weeks still in draft form.”

“It just felt like they were not organized enough for us to do this with them,” he said.

Mr. Haslam was asked if he has problems ceding a lot of control to the federal government, which now will run the health insurance exchange instead of the state.

“I have a lot of issues on how the health care plan works out, how much decision-making it takes out, not just out of state hands, but individual hands,” the governor told the national audience.  “I just don't think the state-based exchange was going to solve that problem.”

“As the chief executive of the state, I did not feel good about going into this partnership, this relationship when they would not define what it would look like,” he continued.  “As ill-defined as this was, it was not the right thing for Tennessee.”

Not so sure of Haslam's stance is the Tennessee Hospital Association, which strongly urged the governor to allow the state to run the health insurance exchange, rather than the federal government.

“We are always more comfortable with the state running a federal program, because there is a little more control,” THA executive director Craig Becker told Nashville's News 2.

He acknowledged there are plenty of unanswered questions now, but may be even more when the federal government's plan takes shape.

“What will the exchange look like? What kind of benefits [will we see]? And instead of more local insurers like Blue Cross of Tennessee, we will likely see big national companies?” Becker asked.

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