Health insurance exchange in Tennessee could be blocked

Tennessee Health Insurance

Senator Brian Kelsey has proposed a bill that would stop the state from being able to launch its own marketplace.

Tennessee Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), who played a central role in ending Governor Bill Haslam’s (R) Medicaid extension plan for 280,000 residents of the state within low incomes, is now setting his sights on 230,000 people who already have coverage under the federal health insurance exchange.

The bill that Sen. Kelsey has proposed would block the state from forming its own online insurance marketplace.

The state of Tennessee would not be able to create and operate its own insurance exchange if Senator Kelsey’s bill should pass and if Affordable Care Act supporters are unable to win their latest legal battle. However, Sen. Kelsey is already facing his own opposition, not only from Governor Haslam, but also from Ron Ramsey, the Republican Senate Speaker, as well as Kelsey’s own House Sponsor. He said that he “[doesn’t] really plan to run it, as is.”

This legal challenge to the insurance exchange will head to the U.S. Supreme Court, today.

Tennessee Health InsuranceIt is believed that a decision on the subject will be made by the summer. This legal challenge is basing itself on a term within the Affordable Care Act that explains that the federal premiums subsidies will be available only to individuals who purchase their health insurance coverage through a state-run marketplace. That said, only 13 states across the country actually run their own marketplaces.

The remaining 37 (including Tennessee), use the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, either in part, or completely. If Senator Kelsey’s challenge is successful, it would mean that everyone who has purchased their health plans in those 37 states will not qualify for tax credits or subsidies to their premiums.

Kelsey explained in an email that “If Republican Attorneys General win this case, it will be a huge blow to Obamacare and should lead to meaningful, conservative health care reform. That’s my hope.” However, his critics have said that this could cause millions of people across the United States who have purchased their coverage through health insurance exchanges to lose their plans.

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