A couple of alleged shams

East Tennessee Republicans Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander each came under fire on Tuesday for a “farce” and “manufactured political theatre,” respectively. Haslam’s attack came from the Democrats, while Alexander’s was from his right-wing primary rival, Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas. These stories are only connected by way of their juxtaposition in my inbox. Nevertheless, here are the press releases.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Late yesterday, Governor Haslam released a letter to Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding his continued obstruction of Medicaid expansion in Tennessee.

“The Governor’s letter is simply the latest in a series of farces,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “It’s more of the same hand-wringing, ducking and dodging we’ve come to expect from this administration, all in an attempt to absolve themselves of the worst moral and mathematical failure in a generation—denying health care to 330,000 working Tennesseans.”

Governor Haslam’s letter offers no specific proposals, instead laying out a series of complaints and concerns about the overall Affordable Care Act. It offers no details about the so-called “Tennessee Plan,” which the Governor has yet to provide either to the federal government or state legislators.

“Governor Haslam is seeking to offer lower quality care to fewer people and still collect all the money allocated in the Medicaid expansion – that is not something that Secretary Sebelius has the power to authorize, and he knows that,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “If Governor Haslam is going to negotiate seriously with CMS on creating a ‘Tennessee Plan,’ it needs to be done in a way that both conforms to federal law and appreciates the economic, fiscal and moral blunder that would result from a decision not to expand Medicaid.”

A hybrid Medicaid expansion plan has already passed the Arkansas legislature and been approved by the federal government. The Arkansas Plan includes cost-sharing components and addresses questions about defining “medically frail” through a questionnaire developed by the state.

“Expanding Medicaid in Tennessee is not an impossible task, but Governor Haslam is doing everything he can to make it one,” said Leader Fitzhugh. “All of the serious questions about creating a hybrid plan have been addressed in the Arkansas Medicaid waiver. Tennesseans don’t have time for the Governor to wait for political cover. The time to act is now.”

The Tennessee General Assembly returns to session on January 14, 2014. Speakers Harwell and Ramsey have pledged to move the session along as quickly as possible, meaning the Governor may only have a few months left before legislators will be gone for the rest of the year. If we do not act by January 1, 2014, Tennessee will begin to lose $2.5 million per day in federal funding.

Nashville, TN — Today, Conservative Republican Senate candidate Joe Carr released the following statement regarding Sen. Alexander’s recent bickering with Sen. Harry Reid on the Senate floor.

“Tennessee voters know manufactured political theatre when they see it, and that’s exactly what Senator Alexander is giving them. This past October, Senator Alexander went behind closed doors and negotiated the deal with Senator Reid that sold-out conservatives by funding Obamacare and re-opening the government. Now he thinks if he bickers with Reid on the Senate floor, Tennessee voters might forget.”

“I’m running because Tennessee voters deserve straight forward and honest conservative leadership that represents their values – not phony showmanship designed to hide a record that is well to the left of the conservative mainstream,” said Joe Carr

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported (12/9/13): Alexander, a Maryville Republican, stopped Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, from calling for a unanimous vote on a group of mostly noncontroversial nominees, including Reeves. The Senate often votes on noncontroversial nominees all at once as a way to move them quickly through the confirmation process. But if one senator objects, the nominees cannot be voted on en bloc.

The Wall Street Journal reported (10/12/13): The Senate’s top Democrat and Republican opened negotiations on Saturday aimed at avoiding a U.S. debt crisis and reopening the government….The two Senate leaders met around 9 a.m. on Saturday for about 45 minutes, along with Sens. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.). Mr. Reid said Mr. Alexander called him on Friday night to initiate the talks at Mr. McConnell’s request.


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