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Insure Tennessee dies, Chattanooga reacts

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A day after lawmakers shot down Governor Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal, there's a lot of uncertainty about what is next.
Haslam hoped to tap into 2.8 billion dollars of federal money, to insure as many as 280-thousand low-income Tennesseans.
But the plan died in a Senate Committee vote, and Chattanooga's Medical Community is reacting.

"This is the right thing to do as the Governor stated, a way to insure patients that are working and are trying to make ends meet and I was very disappointed in their decision," says Chattanooga obstetrician Dr. Vonda Ware after Wednesday's 7-4 vote in the Tennessee State Senate Health Committee that killed Governor Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee plan.

Haslam went across the Volunteer state to tout the 2-year pilot program that would have utilized federal Medicaid funds to help insure 280- thousand low income Tennesseans. 

It included market-based elements like private insurance vouchers and a 74-million dollar pledge from the Tennessee Hospital Association to help cover the state's cost share.  But Haslam ran into a buzz-saw of opposition within his own party.  Some calling it the "Obama Factor".

"Absolutely", agrees Ware. "I mean I think this is the hard facts that came to light and it was shadowed by this ObamaCare and unfortunately it clouded the whole message which was to get a healthier Tennessee," said Ware, Thursday.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society had this to say of the defeat of Insure Tennessee.
"The lawmakers have a difficult job, trying to balance the needs of citizens against the cost to the state. But this seemed straightforward to me. It was not going to cost the citizens of Tennessee anything, and it dooms many citizens to being higher risk. It will cost us more in the long run." 

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