"The politics of it are difficult," Haslam told reporters earlier this week. "And we've recognized that from the very beginning."
Haslam has said he pored over the deals struck by other Republican governors who have decided to pursue Medicaid expansion.
Committees in Florida's Republican-led Legislature have rejected a Medicaid expansion for roughly 1 million of the state's poorest residents, even though it is backed by GOP Gov. Rick Scott. Now a Republican state senator is pursuing an alternative that is much like what Haslam said he wanted — using federal funds to provide vouchers for low-income residents to buy private policies.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, also has been in discussions with the Obama administration about providing subsidized insurance instead of full Medicaid coverage for more adults. Republican governors in Texas, Nebraska and Indiana want the federal government to award Medicaid money as block grants to states.
Haslam said after the speech that if he had wanted to choose the politically expedient solution, he simply would have said no to Medicaid expansion at the start.
He also rejected the suggestion that he accept the full funding from the federal government and then withdraw from the program if the state decided it couldn't afford to pick up its share of the cost.
"The whole idea of just take it for three years and then cut the rolls just never felt right to me," Haslam said.
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