Tennessee’s House Democrats are urging Gov. Bill Haslam to make a decision on whether the state will implement a state-based health insurance exchange that will offer consumers more choices in the health insurance market.

“Governor Haslam has had nearly two years to decide on whether Tennessee will implement its own health exchange or give that responsibility to the federal government,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “While it’s natural to want to continue to procrastinate and take advantage of an extended deadline, Tennessee has spent $9 million and two years studying this issue; it’s time to rip the Band-Aid off – one way or another.”

Gov. Haslam has accepted $9.1 million worth of federal grants to study and design a health insurance exchange in Tennessee, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Nearly 400 days ago, on October 21, 2011, the Tennessee Insurance Exchange Planning Initiative released a white paper following a year of stakeholder interviews that detailed the various options for Tennessee in establishing an exchange.

“The Governor has had ample time to decide whether or not he wants to establish a Tennessee plan for a health insurance exchange,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “Now is not the time for more delays, now is the time to create an open process that brings all interested parties to the table; Democrats, Republicans, consumer advocates, insurance companies, small businesses and others, to start deciding what this Tennessee Health Insurance Exchange will look like.”

President Barack Obama, upon the urging of the Republican Governor’s Association, has given states until Dec. 14 to decide whether they will move forward with a state-controlled insurance exchange, or cede that authority to the federal government.

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