NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Could Insure Tennessee make a comeback?
It was one of the hopes from minority Democrats at the state capitol Tuesday on the first day of the General Assembly, but almost all of the majority Republicans are not going there.
Several dozen folks wearing purple Insure Tennessee T-shirts made sure lawmakers saw them outside the House and Senate chambers.
Insure Tennessee, proposed by Republican Governor Bill Haslam in 2015, would have provided medical coverage for hundreds of thousands of low income Tennesseans with federal Medicaid expansion funds, but it failed in a special session committee.
The minority Democrats think it can be revived, but they would need the help of Governor Haslam and at least 25 other Republicans in the House and another dozen in the Senate.
“I think there are the votes to move an affordable health care bill off the floor any time we want to do it,” proclaimed House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart, who says it remains his party’s top issue.
Top Republicans have no intention of revisiting the issue while maintaining there are other priorities.
“We are going to work to maintain low taxes, low debt, run the government efficiently, and attack the opioid problem,” Lt. Governor Randy McNally.
Last week, House Speaker Beth Harwell, who is running for governor, said 25 more Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents would be in the governor’s budget as one part of the opioid battle. Cutting demand is the elusive part of the opioid battle confronting lawmakers.
The next major day for the General Assembly will be later this month with Governor Haslam’s annual and final State of the State address.
There were a few moments of high drama right before the session started. One of the new state capitol elevators was not working so well with several lawmakers on board. It got stuck.
Senator Steve Dickerson, who is also a doctor, was among them. He joked that some of those stuck with him looked like they might need medical care, but the elevator started running again after about 3-4 minutes stuck between floors.