As VP declares health care debate ‘ain’t over,’ Sen. Alexander plans for hearings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Vice-President Mike Pence declared “this ain’t over,” concerning health care reform during his Nashville visit Thursday, but Senator Lamar Alexander isn’t waiting to see what happens.

Alexander announced hearings this week aimed at helping hundreds of thousands Tennesseans and those around the country who are losing medical insurance options or facing skyrocketing premiums.

The former Tennessee governor from 1979-1987 now chairs the U.S. Senate Health Committee.

Alexander hopes it’s a place where some answers can be found about medical insurance for Tennesseans and those around the country.

“I want to make sure they have options,” said Alexander in front of reporters prior to Thursday night’s Tennessee Republican Party Statesmen’s Dinner.

The Tennessee senator has said all along in the health care debate that his first goal is to help 350,000 Tennesseans who buy their medical insurance on the open market.

It’s not about those on the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare, or those with employer health care who make up the majority of those in Tennessee who have health insurance.

It’s about those on Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, where insurers have pulled out as rates have dramatically increased there and on the private market.

“If the house is on fire, the first thing you do is put out the fire and the fire right now is the individual insurance market in Tennessee,” said the senator. “Three hundred and fifty thousand Tennesseans – songwriters, farmers, self-employed people are worried about whether they will have any insurance policies they will buy in 2018.”

Like everything in the health care debate for now, it’s not clear what immediate solutions can come out of the hearings for stabilizing the individual market for Tennesseans.

The senator said he spoke with the vice president about his hearings, but referred questions about if Pence was supportive to himself.

During his Nashville speech, Pence re-iterated the well-documented criticisms, such as higher premiums and fewer options under Obamacare while saying the health care debate “ain’t over, this ain’t over by a long shot.”

But the first shot says Tennessee’s senior senator should aim at that individual health care market.

The senator plans those health care insurance hearings for the week of September 4.

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