VOL. 125 | NO. 57 | Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Bredesen 'Not Wringing Hands' on Health Care Bill
ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Gov. Phil Bredesen said Monday that while he opposed President Barack Obama's health care plan over the projected $1.1 billion cost to Tennessee, he stands ready to prepare the state for the Medicaid expansion that the measure envisions.
"It is a huge unfunded mandate, and I worked against it," the Democratic governor told reporters before a black-tie event at a Nashville hotel. "But, it's over."
Analysts project the Medicaid expansion to cost the state $1.1 billion over seven years, Bredesen said. The governor, who can't run again this year because of term limits, said he will do his best to prepare the state for the expansion that will mostly take place under his successor.
"I'm not wringing my hands over it," Bredesen said. "I'm just saying 'OK, you win some, you lose some,' and on this particular one, we've got a job to do now to figure out how to make it work here in Tennessee."
Bredesen extended congratulations to Obama for succeeding in his signature initiative.
"I know how hard he worked on getting this through," he said.
The governor said he considers efforts to declare the measure unconstitutional premature, but that he sees no harm in having the state attorney general look into it.
"Arguing that the Congress doesn't have the right to do something like this is pretty much an uphill fight in this day and age," Bredesen said.
Republican state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville earlier Monday urged the state House to join the upper chamber in passing a bill that would require the state attorney general to challenge the constitutionality of the health care measure.
The companion version of the "Tennessee Health Freedom Act" passed the state Senate last month on a 26-1 vote. The House panel is scheduled to consider the measure on Wednesday.
"The health care legislation passed yesterday is a disaster for Tennessee citizens and our constitutional requirement to maintain a balanced budget," Ramsey, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said in a release.
"Individual states must challenge this legislation immediately to halt its implementation," Ramsey said. "The longer we wait, the more it will cost the state of Tennessee and her citizens."
State House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville said he's unimpressed by the move to try to have Tennessee opt out of the plan.
"I have one thing to say about that: 'Appomattox,'" Tuner said, referring the site of the Confederate surrender at the end of the Civil War.
"I think all of a sudden we have a black man elected president, and everyone wants to start acting like something's wrong with our country," Turner said. "I didn't agree with a lot of things George Bush did, but I wasn't ready to secede from the Union."
Ramsey spokesman Lance Frizzell dismissed Turner's comments as "bizarre name-calling." Turner's position is "a perfect example of why Democrats are losing ground in Tennessee," Frizzell said.
Read SB3498 at http://capitol.tn.gov/
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