Government health care perk enjoyed by almost all TN lawmakers

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – While Tennessee state lawmakers Wednesday decided overwhelmingly to stop the Insure Tennessee health care plan for nearly 300,000 low income Tennesseans, almost all of the lawmakers have access to state-subsidized medical coverage.

Figures from the Tennessee Legislative Administration office show 116 lawmakers out of the 132-member House and Senate are signed up for one of several plans that provide state government subsidized medical coverage.

According to records in the legislative administration office, the state of Tennessee covers 80 to 60 percent of the lawmaker’s health care plans.

The office says most retired lawmakers are eligible for the state subsidized health care plans as well, but at levels where the government pays between 60 and 70 percent.

This comes as the Associated Press is reporting that six of the seven lawmakers who voted against Insure Tennessee in the Senate Health and Welfare committee “are enrolled in state government subsidized health insurance.”

The committee vote was the only one taken on Insure Tennessee before lawmakers in both chambers agreed to adjourn without taking further action.

House Speaker Beth Harwell had indicated just prior to the senate committee vote that there did not seem to be support in her chamber.

Governor Bill Haslam, who has been working for nearly two years on the plan, remains uncertain about pursuing it further.

“Ultimately, no matter whose poll you were looking at, people were for this,” he said Thursday.

Insure Tennessee would have used federal Medicaid expansion money to provide health insurance help for an estimated 285,000 low income Tennesseans.

The funds made available through the Affordable Care Act would provide vouchers for those who could not afford an employer’s health care plan as one part of the program.

The other part would provide direct health care coverage for those eligible under Medicaid expansion, but they would “have skin in the game” as the governor says, with things like co-pays and deductibles, and credits for healthy behavior.

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