April 1, 2015

Sounds like a real sweetheart, huh?

On Tuesday night, a Tennessee Senate committee voted to deny some 280,000 state residents access to health care, rejecting a plan to expand Medicaid that would have cost the state nothing.

Following the vote, advocates for expansion ran into state Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R), awealth manager at Morgan Stanley who sits on the committee. One activist, Damien Crisp, asked Gardenhire if he would be willing to give up his own state-subsidized health insurance.

Gardenhire, in a video of the incident taken by another activist, turned around and said something along the lines of "Not giving it up, asshole" or, perhaps, "Why don't you give it up, asshole?" ("Asshole" is the clearest part of his rejoinder.)

Gardenhire's health coverage has been an issue in Tennessee before. He had previously claimed not to receive state-sponsored coverage, but the Associated Press, through an open records request, revealed that he does."I have it, but I don't use it," the lawmaker told AP after the revelation. "I use Morgan Stanley's insurance, which is far greater."

He vowed to cancel the state insurance, which led to the activist's question Tuesday, which led to the cussing.

The Medicaid expansion that Gardenhire voted against would have been covered by federal dollars and contributions from state hospitals.

While Gardenhire did not return an email or call from HuffPost requesting comment, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that he said, "When a guy follows you into the bathroom and starts shouting at you, he's lucky I only called him by his first name."

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