Lawmakers in Tennessee are watching Florida closely after the state’s conservative Republican governor went along with a major piece of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Bill Haslam is still on the fence about expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare.
For the first three years, the federal government would pay the entire cost of insuring thousands of new TennCare recipients.
In Florida, Governor Rick Scott said he could not “in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care.” Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says having such a conservative leading the way could provide “cover” to lawmakers. But Governor Haslam would still have to sell an expansion, Ramsey says.
The commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has resigned amid scrutiny of how her agency was handling cases of children who died after investigations of abuse and neglect.
Gov. Bill Haslam announced in a news release Tuesday that Kate O’Day had decided to resign because of concerns that she had become the focus of attention rather than the children the agency is meant to serve.
Haslam last week defended O’Day’s leadership, even after the agency told a federal judge it couldn’t say with any certainty how many children died while in its custody.
DCS had been sued by The Tennessean, The Associated Press and 10 other news organizations to obtain case records of 150 children who died after the state launched abuse or neglect investigations.
Governor Bill Haslam has presented to lawmakers the spending plan that includes a staffing shakeup at the troubled Department of Children's Services, a heavy investment into construction projects around the state and a large deposit into the state's cash savings fund.
The Governor also formally introduced his proposal to create a limited school voucher program in Tennessee to allow parents to use public money to send their children to private schools. According to legislation filed in the Senate on Monday, the program would be limited to 5,000 students in the school year that begins in August, and grow to 20,000 students by 2016.
Haslam acknowledged the proposal will be "hotly debated" and Democrats issued a statement before the speech to criticize the plan.