In an address today to the Tennessee General Assembly, Republican Governor Bill Haslam said he would not expand the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare, under the Affordable Care Act.

According to, Haslam said “he is continuing to work on a plan that he believes would enable Tennessee to add an estimated 170,000 low-income residents to a plan that provides private insurance. The federal government hasn’t accepted that proposal.”

Haslam’s rejection of the plan appears to have as much to do with politics and “Obamacare” as it does with insurance coverage for Tennessee residents. The Governor’s speech today reportedly blasted the Obama administration for state-level problems related to healthcare reform.

While his own party members broadly supported Haslam’s position, democratic lawmakers in the state were not so convivial, according to

“Gov. Haslam has a 68 percent approval rating and $1 billion and he’s afraid of the fringe of his own party,” Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, charged following Haslam’s announcement today before a joint convention of the General Assembly.

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the governor is leaving a $1 billion a year for the next three years “on the table that would provide insurance for working Tennesseans. I think that’s the bottom line.”

Under Haslam’s own plan for TennCare, Medicare patient populations would be lumped into the insurance exchanges where they would be eligible to purchase private insurance.

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