These guys in the committee need to get on the ball, because 35 other states are leaving them behind, along with the citizens of Tennessee.

Legislators mull Tennessee Health Freedom Act in wake of new federal law

Tennessee House Commerce subcommittee weighed in on Congress’ approval of health care reform by considering the “Tennessee Health Freedom Act” on Wednesday.

The amended legislation says “it will be the public policy of this state for Tennesseans to be able to choose their mode of securing health care services without penalty or threat of penalty by the federal government.”

A companion bill passed last month in the state Senate.

The health care reform bill signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday will require most Americans to have health insurance, add millions of people to the Medicaid rolls, and subsidize private coverage for low- and middle-income people at a cost to the government of $938 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The proposed version of the Tennessee bill, sponsored in the House by state Rep. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, called on Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper to seek and preserve the rights of state residents.

The House Commerce Industrial Impact Subcommittee heard Bell’s bill and stuck to its practice of deferring amended legislation for one week despite a large number of anti-health care reform activists being present.( committee members don’t make the mistake that the federal legislators did……not listening to you constituents.)

“This bill’s intention is to be a tool to protect Tennesseans who do not want to participate in the new federal program…” Bell said of the bill. “This is an unprecedented move by the federal government to mandate individuals purchase a product. … We’re not talking about another Medicare program where people pay a dedicated tax to support a program. … This has never been done in the history of our country.”

Bell quoted Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, who when asked if Tennessee will challenge health care reform, said: “I think it is an uphill battle. I will be honest with you in terms of the Constitution, but it is a legitimate issue, and I have no complaints against attorneys general who are putting it forward.”

In a statement released on Tuesday, Cooper said he has instructed his staff to begin a thorough and detailed analysis of the health care reform bill.

“As always in this office, a decision to file a lawsuit will be made after consultation with the affected departments of state government, careful deliberation regarding legal precedents, and only upon a determination that litigation is proper, prudent and timely. In the meantime, as Tennesseans have long respected, this office will be conscientious to avoid engagement on ongoing political debates,” Cooper said in the statement.

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Blountville Republican running for governor this year, urged Cooper to make preparations for “protective legal action” against the federal measure.

Individual lawmakers in at least 36 state legislatures are attempting to “seek, limit, alter or oppose” mandates to purchase health insurance, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). In 29 of those states, proposals include a constitutional amendment by a ballot question.

NCSL said 13 states, including Tennessee, are attempting to amend state law with a statute titled “health insurance not required.” Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell signed Virginia’s health freedom law on Wednesday.

The health care reform measure signed by Obama would require most Americans to have health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.(or go to jail for a year if the fine is not paid.) Subsidies from the federal government would help people pay for private insurance sold through new state-based insurance exchanges starting in 2014, according to NCSL’s summary of the federal health care reform legislation.

For more information go to The Tennessee bill’s number is HB 3433.