Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday that the state will not operate a state-based healthcare exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Tennessee had a Friday deadline to make a decision about the health insurance exchanges, created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
“I’m not a fan of the law,” said Haslam, a Republican and former Knoxville mayor. “The more I know, the more harmful I think it will be for small businesses and costly for state governments and the federal government. It does nothing to address the cost of health care in our country. It only expands a broken system. That’s why I’ve opposed it from the beginning and had hoped we would be successful in court and at the ballot box this year.”
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law, derisively referred to by critics as “Obamacare,” in June.
Haslam said the law requires every state to participate in an insurance exchange. The decision for Tennessee officials was whether the state or federal government should run it.
“I’ve said that I think Tennessee could run a state exchange cheaper and better, and my natural inclination is to keep the federal government out of our business as much as possible,” Haslam said.
He said Tennessee officials have received more than 800 pages of draft rules from the federal government since the presidential election. Some of those limit state decisions about running an exchange more than Tennessee officials had expected, the governor said.
He said the Obama administration had set an aggressive timeline to implement exchanges, but there is still a lot of uncertainty about how the process will actually work.
“In weighing all of the information we currently have, I informed the federal government today that Tennessee will not run a state-based exchange,” Haslam said in the Monday press release. “If conditions warrant in the future and it makes sense at a later date for Tennessee to run the exchange, we would consider that as an option at the appropriate time.”
Haslam said the decision followed months of consideration and analysis. It was a business decision, and he suggested it was not politically motivated.
“If this were a political decision, it would’ve been easy, and I would’ve made it a long time ago,” Haslam said.