published Friday, March 29th, 2013

Bill barring state-licensed insurers from operating in health exchanges fails

NASHVILLE — A bill banning Tennessee-licensed insurers from participating in a federally operated health care exchange failed this week in the Senate Commerce Committee after getting just one vote.

Only the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dorlores Gresham, R-Somerville, voted for it. Two Democrats voted no while four Republican senators, including Bo Watson of Hixson and Ken Yager of Harriman abstained.

The bill, opposed by insurers like Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, last week passed a House subcommittee on a 6-2 vote as the sponsor, Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, declared he had found the “Achilles heel” of Obamacare.

Senators took a dimmer view.

Dennis claimed the bill would prevent insurers from operating on the exchange, an online marketplace where consumers would be able to easily compare plans and prices offered by various insurers.

State Attorney General Bob Cooper said federal law would supercede its impact on out-of-state companies but said it could hurt Tennessee-based companies like BlueCross.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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