UPDATE: The bill passed the house on Tuesday, 53 to 32. To view video of the proceedings, click here. It will go before the Senate on Wednesday.
In a ninth inning push to protect Tennesseans from the penalty provisions of Obamacare, the state Senate made an unprecedented move to recall from committee SB2560, the companion bill to Rep. Susan Lynn’s Health Care Freedom Act (HB2622). If passed, HB2622 will write into law a policy statement for all Tennesseans that health care mandates or penalties for defying such mandates may not be carried out in the state of Tennessee. The bill is model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in response to the passage of the federal health care mandate.
Two other Health Care Freedom Acts that would have protected Tennesseans from the penalty provisions of the new federal health care mandate were defeated in the Budget Subcommittee of the House Finance, Ways & Means committee last week. One was an amendment to the state constitution (HJR745 by Rep. Susan Lynn) and the second was a bill that had already passed the Senate (HB3433/SB3498 by Rep. Mike Bell and Sen. Mae Beavers).
After last week, Rep. Lynn’s HB2622 is the only Health Care Freedom bill left standing, having successfully maneuvered its way through the House committees to the House floor, but Sen. Diane Black had not run the companion bill in the Senate. Because the Senate committees were already closed for this session, SB2560 had to be recalled from committee to the Senate floor. The bill was originally scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Saturday, but due to the absence of Sen. Black, the bill was rolled to a later date.
Due to concerns by the insurance companies doing business in the state of Tennessee, an amendment has been introduced in the House to ensure that the bill cannot be construed as to provide for a guaranteed issue of health insurance by the insurance companies. Rep. Lynn is reviewing this amendment to ensure that it does not compromise the bill, but she is not opposed to it.
It is important to remember that this bill will not bind future legislatures if they choose to pass a bill to rescind this one at a later date. The best protection for Tennesseans’ health care rights will be a state constitutional amendment, as the process to change the Tennessee Constitution is a long and arduous one. An amendment to the Tennessee Constitution can require up to six years. For now, this bill will serve as a stopgap measure to protect Tennesseans until such a constitutional amendment is passed.
HB2622 will likely be brought before the full House on Tuesday, June 8 for a vote. The fight over the bill is expected to be intense. A Senate vote on SB2560 is expected to follow later in the week. It is imperative that Tennesseans begin contacting legislators in both the House and Senate to encourage them to vote for this bill. Please remember to be polite and respectful when interacting with the members of the legislature.
To find and contact your legislators, click here.
Lesley Swann is a Co-Host for Tenther Radio and the state chapter coordinator for the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center. She is a native of Anderson County, Tennessee.
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