An advertising battle has already begun over Governor Bill Haslam’s plan to expand Medicaid.
Two weeks before lawmakers are scheduled to take up the Republican governor's Insure Tennessee health proposal, a pair of groups are launching competing radio spots centered on the plan.
One group, the Coalition for a Healthy Tennessee, began airing ads this week in support of the plan. It argues the proposal will help rural hospitals and the uninsured -- without any cost to the state.
"No new taxes and no new state government spending to make sure more of our fellow, hardworking Tennesseans have health care," the business organization says. "That's the conservative way."
Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity, plans to begin airing ads this week opposing the proposal. The libertarian group has argued Insure Tennessee is a covert effort to bring Obamacare to the state.
Lawmakers will not officially take Insure Tennessee up until a special session that starts Feb, but by then, many will have their minds made up. So the lobbying war – complete with stump speeches, letter campaigns and ad battles – has been fast-tracked.
Gov. Bill Haslam made appearances in Memphis and Jackson on Wednesday to build support for his plan.
A decisive juncture could come next week, when a Senate panel holds a hearing on legal questions about the plan. In a letter to state Attorney General Herbert Slatery sent earlier this month, senators sought assurances that the state would be able to withdraw from Insure Tennessee if costs increase or terms of the agreement change.
The answers they get at the hearing Tuesday could go a long way toward determining Insure Tennessee’s fate.