GOP legislators spurned renewed Haslam pitch for Medicaid expansion in private meeting

Gov.  Bill Haslam asked Republican legislative leaders earlier this month if they would reconsider Medicaid expansion legislation, which was rejected when he initially proposed the idea three years ago, reports The Tennessean. House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Randy McNally were open to discussing the idea but others were not and the notion was dropped.

Alongside Haslam for the early morning meeting was Wendy Long, the head of TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program. The previous week, Long had met with Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, when the administration joined U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on a trip to Nashville.

“In both meetings the current state of play at the national and state level regarding Medicaid expansion, work requirements and cost sharing were discussed, among a variety of other topics,” said Sarah Tanksley Stockton, a TennCare spokeswoman.

On April 4, the group discussed filing a House or Senate resolution or calling a special legislative session to receive the support of the legislature for any proposed expansion.

…Along with McNally and Harwell, other lawmakers present included Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, (House Majority Leader Glen) Casada, GOP caucus chairmen Bill Ketron and Ryan Williams, Sens. Ferrell Haile and Bo Watson and Reps. Steve McDaniel and Charles Sargent.

… Key critics of the latest effort were Ketron and Casada. They reiterated concerns raised in 2015: Any expansion would likely include state costs unforeseen or downplayed by Haslam.

Note: Senate Health Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) tells the Johnson City Press he didn’t know about the meeting and wasn’t invited, but would have been open to Haslam’s proposal.

“Now that all the Obama stuff has died down, if (Haslam) tried his Insure Tennessee again, it might pass because it’s a market-based plan. It’s a personal responsibility plan. You have to do something to get something,” said Crowe, who helped pass the proposal out of his committee in 2015.

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