In the wake of Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen essentially dismantling the state's TennCare (Medicaid) program leaving nearly 200,000 people without insurance, state lawmakers have introduced several proposed bills to address the health insurance crisis in Tennessee:
 

  • The "Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool Act of 2006" would setup a state run insurance program for the uninsured and uninsurable and those dropped from TennCare. Any insurance company doing business in the state would be required to participate.
     
  • The "Tennessee Employer Health Care Security Act" would require employers in the state with more than 2500 employees to pay a 12% "privilege tax" on wages for each full time employee, which could be offset by a credit for the amount of employee insurance premiums paid by the employer. The funds would be used to setup a new state program to provide insurance for the uninsured.
     
  • The "Fair Share Health Care Fund Act" (similar to Maryland's Wal-Mart health care anti-subsidy law) would apply only to employers with more than 10,000 employees, and would require employers to spend at least 8% on health care benefits or pay the state the difference. Funds from this program would be used to fund TennCare.
     
  • SB3010 would provide a tax deduction for employers who pay health insurance premiums for former TennCare enrollees.
     
  • HB2021 would establish a Department of Health program to allow Tennessee residents to obtain imported prescription drugs from a Canadian pharmacy benefits manager.
     
  • HB2971 would require pharmacy benefit managers to disclose any conflicts of interest and all financial arrangements with pharmaceutical companies, including "payment or benefit for the dispensation of prescription drugs within the state, based on volume of sales for certain prescription drugs or classes or brands of drugs within the state" and "remuneration of any kind applying between the pharmacy benefits manager and any prescription drug manufacturer or labeler, including, without limitation, formulary management and drug-switch programs, educational support, claims processing, and pharmacy network fees that are charged from retail pharmacies and data sales fees."

    Another bill, the "Tennessee Health Insurance for Small Business and Affordability Act of 2006" reads like it was written by insurance company lawyers for insurance companies, so I'm not exactly sure what it's all about.

    (You might wonder if any of these proposals have a snowball's chance of passing. You also wouldn't be from around here, would you?)