Conservatives in Tennessee are divided over whether or not they should expand Medicaid under Obamacare and the primary obstacle to doing so appears to be the popular moniker "Obamacare."
Governor Bill Haslam (R) recently reached a deal with the federal government to expand the state's Medicaid program, but the program known as "Insure Tennessee" died in the state legislature before it could be implemented.
Conservative legislators who are concerned about the political ramifications of expanding Medicaid were not swayed by poll data distributed by the governor's office that shows a majority of Tennesseans support the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare as long as you don't call it Obamacare.
Haslam's allies circulated a polling memo to GOP state legislators [last] week, written by the firm of longtime national GOP pollster Whit Ayres, showing that 85 percent of Republican voters in Tennessee oppose "Obamacare," but just 16 percent oppose "Insure Tennessee."
Are Republican lawmakers in Tennessee afraid to tell their constituents that they support the expansion of Medicaid under the name "Insure Tennessee" which would provide healthcare to over 200,000 residents?
They may not have been if it weren't for Americans for
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) mobilized against Governor Haslam's plan to expand Medicaid, even going so far as to purchase airtime to warn the people of Tennessee that their local representative may be preparing to "vote for Obamacare."
AFP's rationale for doing so is clear, but for the people of Tennessee it could only be described as cutting off their nose to spite their face.
"We're the third-worst state in the country for accepting federal dollars," said Andrew Ogles, AFP's state director said in an interview here. "It's time for us to stop. Anytime we have a problem, instead of coming up with a Tennessee solution, we run to the federal government with our hands out. No more."
Tennessee may receive more aide from the federal government than it contributes in taxes, but in this case there is no state solution that wouldn't require raising taxes significantly or cutting funding for other programs in large amounts.
Americans for Prosperity have effectively petitioned conservatives in the state to refuse a program for which there is no viable alternative, and I have no doubt that AFP is well aware of this. AFP has effectively petitioned conservatives to die rather than accept Obamacare.
Death before Obamacare.