WPLN.org, by Joe White
March 22, 2010

The president’s signing of the national health care bill today will affect Tennessee not just as a population of six million citizens, but also as an employer that pays for health insurance for its workers.

Mark Norris is the Republican leader in the state Senate. Within hours after the U.S. House passed a new national health care plan Sunday he was calculating the affect on the upcoming state budget.

“When the bill is signed, one of the first chances will be that dependants will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance policies, health policies, up to age 26.”

Norris says that will drive up the insurance costs of the state. He asked state officials Monday what the increased costs would be.

“Nobody knew the answer. But with the signing of the bill, we need to know, and I submit that there are a number of other impacts upon this year’s budget, as well as future budgets, which we have to calculate immediately.”

Once those costs are hammered out, Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly have to agree on how to fund them.

The state faces a June 30 deadline to pass a new budget, but lawmakers say they hope to finish by mid-May.


Norris, who leads the majority party in the Senate, took a dig at Governor Phil Bredesen, who had expressed misgivings about the national plan earlier in the political fight.

“Ultimately, Governor Bredesen has said, it will impact us to the negative of about one point three Billion dollars, which we don’t have. But in the coming days, we’ll find that it affects this year’s budget, … through these increased insurance costs. And we have to find a way to pay for them. It’s the mother of all unfunded mandates just as the governor said last fall.”

Republicans sponsored a number of measures in the state legislature expressing opposition to the overall plan.

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