Tennessee Star Report EXCLUSIVE: State Rep. Robin Smith Discusses a Tennessee ‘Consumer Friendly’ Healthcare Standard

On Thursday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Gill and Leahy chatted with Tennessee State Representative and brand new committee chairman, Robin Smith about how the Democrats continue to obstruct, distract, and delay by challenging her State Rep victory.

Further on in the segment, Smith touched upon the issue of redistricting and a solution to Tennessee’s healthcare issues by devising some sort of healthcare standard that will allow a more affordable cost to consumers coupled with choices.

Gill: As the Tennessee legislature kicks off, not in earnest, on Monday after the inauguration of Governor Bill Lee on Saturday. One of those who’s going to be participating in the inaugural events and watching with great attention is former state party chair of the state of Tennessee, Robin Smith, now State Representative Robin Smith from down in the Chattanooga area. And she’s also a brand new committee chairman and will focus on how we deal with the issues that effect the health insurance, well healthcare of the people of Tennessee. And Robin good to have you with us.

Smith: Good morning Steve and Michael, great to be back together again.

Gill: You know, I’m not sure if it’s unusual or historic that a freshman member of the State House would be appointed to chair a committee.

Smith: It might be historic for an almost fifty-six year old to be a freshman.


Leahy: Well Robin, you have terrific, experience here and we first met eleven years ago when you were the chairman…

Smith: That’s right.

Leahy: of the Tennessee Republican Party. I was a delegate to the Republican National Convention that year. And by the way, you did a great job as chairman. And thank you for all your work there.

Smith: Well, whether it’s been in healthcare or whether its been in project management or politics or now in a new endeavor. I’ve always been very blessed with especially effective and excellent teams. And I don’t expect that this experience in the state legislature is going to be any different under the leadership with speaker Glen Casada, Majority Leader William Lamberth, and our caucus chairman, Cameron Sexton. But back in those days, Michael and Steve, you remember, we were kind of snickered at when we were in the minority and we had that audacious dream of, what was it? Hold the ten in two thousand ten, that was our goal, was to be in charge of the state legislature to impact the districting which always seemed to work against us when the Democrats were in charge.

And we put a plan together and ran, I believe it was, twenty-seven races and we won fourteen of those in the state legislature. And it was a matter of teamwork. And if you walked in my office, not today, but tomorrow one of my favorite pieces on the wall will be placed and it’s the Stanford crew team from years ago. And it just shows a very elegant picture of some folks in a crew haul and their all rowing in at the cadence. And that’s what happens when you’re in an effective team. If you get in the same boat, and you listen to the call of the coxswain, and you began to row in the right direction, good things happen. And we achieved that goal thanks so much of talk radio and grassroots people back in two thousand eight. We achieved that goal two years earlier than we anticipated to hold the pen for re-districting. But, now wearing a different hat, everyone kind of laughs back in two thousand seven through nine, every day when I got up my job was to win Republican races. And now my job is to serve the people of Tennessee and make sure their Tennessee government is producing good value of their Tennessee tax dollars.

Gill: You know you mention the re-districting, it’s kind of interesting, for a century Democrats controlled most state legislators  controlled the pen when it came to drawing districts. They had no problem at all over representing Democrat votes, under-representing Republican votes when it came to the district lines that were drawn both in Congressional seats, and state House, and state Senate seats. Now that Republicans have moved to the majority in places like Tennessee and other states. Or they’re going to court to say re-districting should not be done with an eye to politics. It’s amazing how they flipped their whole appreciation for legislative control once they lost they lost that legislative control.

Smith agreed that it was fascinating and drew an example by referencing taking people to court like newly appointed Senator Rosalind Kurita, who ironically, is now caucusing with Republican’s in the Tennessee Senate, was sued by her own party. She added that she’s currently being sued by Democrats even though she’s already won the race, in an effort to appeal and overturn House District twenty one’s wishes based on the falsehood that the qualifying deadline was opened inappropriately. Smith explained that it’s difficult for Democrats to win at the ballot box so they shop the court with lawsuits seeking a favorable outcome. She was confident things would work out for her in the right way. “Sometimes it just works out. You just have to let time be an effective ingredient,” she concluded.

Gill: It’s kind of an interesting waste of court time and other money. That the Democrats are going to try and challenge you even now that you’ve assumed office. If you were somehow forced out of office by the Democrats there would be a special election that you would win handily. I mean it’s not like they’re going to get the seat if they succeed in their litigation.

Smith: Well, it’s terribly funny that the young lady who was my Democrat opponent in this particular case, has never lived in the district while votes were being cast in either the primary or general election. And yet the Democrats are trying to sue to overturn this particular race. So, it is a waste of resources. It’s a distraction. And as we both know, obstruction, distraction, delay. Those are the tactics of those people who treat everything politically rather than to govern. And with this incoming a hundredth and eleventh general assembly, I can tell you that one of the key priorities we’re going to be addressing is healthcare. That’s something near and dear to my heart as a former critical care, cardiac care, heart transplant nurse. And knowing that we have really bundled the terminology and I think it’s time.

I think Tennessee can lead in this particular area as well. When you think about it, we are equating health insurance with health care. And if we’re able to bring the cost care down for health care services, then you drive up the access and you also help people that are paying you know, three, four…I spoke with a waiter last night who was attending a meeting that I held for constituents’ and he was telling me, “Robin, my deductible is five thousand dollars, I’m a young healthy male, I never meet my deductible unless I anticipate being in a car accident or something traumatic which I don’t plan to do.” And so, he was the picture perfect reason that we’ve got to have price transparency in the state. We’ve got to do some things to the market to enhance consumer-driven decisions in the healthcare avenue. Because so much of the out of the pocket expenses are coming from the patient, and they’re not able to shop. I’ve got one of my dear friends right now is having hand surgery. He asked no fewer than four times within the last two days, “How much does my surgery cost? How much does my surgery cost? No one can tell him.”

Gill wrapped up the interview in agreement to Smith’s stance by stating that we’ve set up a system where the consumer has no tie to the service they are purchasing which doesn’t provide for cost transparency allowing the consumer to go price out other options. He urged that we’ve got to find a way to remove this defensive medicine approach with unnecessary costly testing to cover potential lawsuits. He added that lawyers can get involved which makes those costs rise to cover potential lawsuits. Smith concurred with Gill’s statement and cited the fact that there is around thirty to fifty percent estimate of healthcare dollars being spent on things that are unnecessary. She added that this is in response to the fear of litigation and with insurance reimbursement. She also stated that we need a program that incentivizes doctors decisions based on real-time assessment and care, not a “cookbook” solution.

“America pays for the world’s research and development. And this is something the state legislature cannot change on the phone. We can encourage our folks in Washington to discuss research and development costs. Profit is not a dirty word for this Republican. We know that wealth and work is very dignified,” she concluded.

Listen to the full segment:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Robin Smith” by Robin Smith.










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