State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) and State Rep. Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville) have called on the Tennessee General Assembly to reconvene for a special session to override the Governor Bill Haslam’s veto of the Cancer Patient Choice Act. That Act, which gives patients and their physicians the choice of proton therapy for cancer treatment, passed the Senate 29-1-1 and the House 85-13.
“Let’s remember where this begins: A physician and patient. The physician makes a recommendation for what he thinks or she thinks is best for the patient. Next, the pa-tient decides they want that. But then, the insurance companies step in,” State Sen. Green, a medical doctor who is running for the Republican nomination for the House of Representatives in the 7th Congressional District, said.
“Unfortunately, the Governor has chosen to side with the insurance companies and their vendors–ignoring what physicians and their patients have decided is best,” Green added.
The authors of the bill agreed creating a special process was not ideal and placed the bill into summer study last year. The Haslam administration was given 18 months to find a solution, but when that failed, the General Assembly took action and overwhelmingly passed this bill to protect both state employees and the doctor-patient relationship.
Green, a physician and a cancer survivor, pointed out: “This bill would provide proton therapy as an option at the same price as traditional radiation. Having taken care of thousands of patients myself, I realize that every patient is unique, and their disease is as unique as they are. We need to give the physician and the patient the right to choose. This bill did so with no additional cost to the state. Further, the General Assembly voted convincingly to pass the legislation. I hope my colleagues will join me to override this veto.”
This is only the fifth time that Governor Haslam has exercised his veto authority. On Wednesday, the Governor issued a statement explaining his veto:
Today, I vetoed Senate Bill 367, a bill that circumvents the established process for determining state employee insurance program coverage based on medical evidence and effectiveness. The state plan currently covers many forms of radiation treatment, and the provider advocating this bill rejected a medically appropri-ate plan for expanded coverage to instead pursue a political mandate. The state is committed to high-quality care that is medically appropriate and fiscally responsible for patients and taxpayers, but this man-date could put patients at risk and expose them to excessive charges from out-of-network providers.
A Governor’s veto in Tennessee can be overridden with a simple majority vote in both the Senate and the House.