Tenn. House Democrat leader says Republicans 'failing in their most fundamental job' on health care

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - When Governor-elect Bill Lee puts out his legislative agenda early next year he should be helped by the Republican super-majority on Tennessee's Capitol Hill, but the minority Democrats hope to be heard on issues like Medicaid expansion. 

"They (Republicans) are basically failing in their most fundamental job," says House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart of Nashville.   

All of Tennessee's Capitol Hill Democrats and even a few Republicans, like term-limited Governor Bill Haslam, have considered expanding the state's Medicaid program, TennCare, by using available money from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or "Obamacare." 

Over 40-states, many of them with Republican majorities, have passed some form of Medicaid expansion with the ACA money. 

If passed in Tennessee, it would mean that hundreds of thousands of low-income Tennesseans would have healthcare. 

Rep. Stewart expanded on why Republicans are "failing" on the issue. 

"As long as Governor Lee and the Republicans in the legislature have not expanded healthcare, they have not done even the most fundamental basic thing they could do to help Tennesseans," added Rep. Stewart 

Governor-elect Lee says he wants to find ways to lower health care costs but does not support using the federal ACA funds to do it. 

Representative Stewart thinks the healthcare help for low-income Tennesseans could happen shortly after Bill Lee takes office.  

"If Governor Lee wanted to expand health care in this state, he could do it three days after his inauguration," said the House Democrat leader.  

It's clear that while their voices may be few, Tennessee Capitol Hill Democrats want to be heard.

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