The Governor says he needed more information from the Obama Administration but, Tennessee Democrats say this was all about politics.
Do it yourself! That's Governor Bill Haslam's message to the Obama Administration. He says the state won't run its own healthcare insurance exchange. "The federal government's really not ready to do this so it would be a bumpy ride to take off with them," says Governor Haslam.
Healthcare insurance exchanges are a key component of the Healthcare Reform Act. They're online marketplaces where individuals can research and purchase insurance coverage. States have the option to set up their own exchanges but the governor says he didn't get the information he needed from the Obama Administration. "the whole time they had the state of Tennessee saying we, we're saying ok we understand, we think we can run a state based on exchange and help us, help us, answer our questions and the fact that they, they couldn't or wouldn't I think is particularly bothersome."
The Obama Administration's Health and Human Services Department says it was working with the State of Tennessee. In a statement the department spokesperson says "we have already issued information and guidance to states regarding the law, and will provide additional guidance in the days and weeks ahead. We will continue to do everything possible to answer particular questions and provide technical assistance to state leaders."
Several Tennessee Democrats say the Governor is playing politics. Haslam has been facing pressure from conservatives and tea party members to decline a state exchange. But some democrats have a different way of looking at it. Rep. Antonio Parkinson says, "if you have a group of individuals that's not interested in you know the new law, the affordable care act, you know, I prefer it be in the hands of people that do care about it so that we make sure that our citizens are taken care of the best possible care they can get."
The governor could change his position in the future. The administration says it will continue to work with the state. But Tennessee is on track to lose the 80 million dollars the federal government would pay to cover the costs of starting an exchange.
Click here to see the reaction and analysis on the governor's decision.