Contact: Darlene Schlicher (615) 741-6336 or email: [email protected]
(NASHVILLE, TN), June 9, 2010 — The Tennessee Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin) to protect the freedom of Tennessee patients to make their own health care choices, regardless of federal action taken in Washington. The bill was passed as the Senate worked into the evening on Wednesday to end the 2010 legislative session.
The legislation, Senate Bill 2560, was amended by State Senators to include language previously adopted by that body earlier this year. The amended bill, called the Tennessee Health Freedom Act, does not seek to “nullify” any federal law, as it would still allow individuals the option to participate in a federal program. However, it acknowledges the right of Tennesseans to refuse to participate in a government-run health insurance program. It also calls on the state’s Attorney General to take action in the defense or prosecution of rights protected under the legislation.
“The Tennessee Health Freedom Act, would protect a citizen’s right to participate, or not participate, in any healthcare system, and would prohibit the federal government from imposing fines or penalties on that person’s decision,” said Senator Beavers. “It was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate earlier this year. I am very pleased that the Senate has passed this law in a form that has a remedy to fight back against the overreach of federal power on the private lives of our citizens.”
“The health care law passed by Congress is ‘big brother’ at his worst and is Exhibit A in the people’s case against Washington’s abuse of power,” said Senator Black. “The citizens of Tennessee believe they should be able to choose whether or not they want to participate in a federal health care plan. That is what this bill seeks to accomplish.”
Financial experts predict that the federal healthcare plan will consume any anticipated growth in Tennessee’s revenues once the economy recovers, crippling the state’s ability to make future improvements in critical needs like education, job investment and public safety.
The federal health care law will also penalize citizens beginning in 2014 if they do not buy insurance.
“We are talking about stiff penalties that will escalate to 2.5 percent of a citizen’s taxable income by 2016 if they do not purchase health care insurance,” added Beavers.
“Our citizens want us to stand up to the federal government and send them a strong message that Tennesseans are unhappy with this new law,” added Black. “We are very pleased that our Senate has approved this legislation.”
The bill now goes back to the House of Representatives for approval of the Senate amendment.