Sen. Herron fights health care bill
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 9:02 pm
State Sen. Roy Herron fought legislation this week that he says would create a “health care compact” that could destroy health care for millions of Tennesseans currently receiving Medicare.
“I’m not prepared to take a single step down a road toward the end of Medicare as we know it,” Herron said. “Medicare has kept my 94-year-old mother alive and well enough to spoil her grandchildren. I’m not going to put my mother and thousands of other seniors at risk.”
Senate Bill 326 would allow Tennessee to enter into a multi-state health care compact instead of participating in the federal Medicare program, according to Herron. The state would receive some federal health care dollars, but not enough to maintain current care, he maintains.
The compact is similar to Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which Democrat critics say would effectively end the current Medicare program. The U.S. House of Representatives has already voted for catastrophic cuts to Medicare for seniors, Herron said.
During floor debate on Wednesday, bill sponsor Sen. Mae Beavers acknowledged that a health care compact could lead to a state takeover of Medicare.
“Certainly that would be a choice, if Congress approves this,” SMs. Beavers said. “We could come back and we could set up a framework, and we could manage Medicare funds.”
Herron responded: “At a time when spending is out of control, if the federal government sends us the responsibility to manage Medicare, there’s no guarantee they’ll give us the money to fund it.”
Such a burden on state governments would be disastrous to seniors, disabled citizens and the mentally ill, all of whom could lose benefits under such a plan he says.
“This plan is irresponsible and reckless, and it puts millions of Tennesseans needlessly at risk,” Herron said.
The bill passed 22-9, with all Senate Republicans voting for the measure. The House version of the bill has been deferred to next year and would require Congressional approval if signed into state law.
Published in The Messenger 5.20.11