Governor Bill Haslam is getting plenty of public input as his decision on health insurance exchanges looms next week.
First, it was a group of fellow Republicans from the conservative lunch group First Tuesday, then embattled congressman Scott DesJarlais, and Wednesday he will hear from Tennessee Tea Party members who plan to raise their voices during a Capitol Hill rally.
The insurance exchanges from the President Barack Obama's health care overhaul would provide a medical coverage marketplace for an estimated 250,000 Tennesseans, but Tennessee is one of 10 states that has not made a decision either to run it itself, or let the federal government do it.
During and after a speech to the conservative lunch group called First Tuesday, the governor said he's just gotten nearly 400-pages of documents from the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) department, but many questions remain unanswered.
"Will we have flexibility or are they organized enough to where we really can run a state-based exchange," he told reporters.
Tennessee Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais, who is facing questions about approving abortions during his first marriage, keeps urging the governor not to run the exchanges.
His latest effort was an opinion piece appearing in local newspapers where he cited cost and constitutional questions, but the governor isn't citing expense at the top of his list for making a decision.
"The cost of any exchange whether ours, state run or federal exchange, the cost is going to paid by the users," Haslam said today.
The governor went on to say users would pay three to four percent on their premiums.
No matter what the governor decides he's likely to face a heavily Republican legislature full of lawmakers who want no part of the healthcare overhaul.
Numerous bills are already planned that would fight the measure, but if the state decides to run the health insurance exchange, legislative approval is needed.
Tennessee Tea Party members plan to add their voice Wednesday during a noontime Legislative Plaza rally.