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One of the state's highest elected officials has addressed the issue of a Maryville couple who said government policies forced them to separate after 33 years of marriage.

We introduced you to the Drains on Monday. They are among 162,000 Tennesseans who got caught in an insurance coverage gap after the Affordable Care Act went into effect and Governor Haslam decided not to expand Medicaid.

In depth: Maryville couple separates to keep health insurance

Larry Drain said his wife, who has epilepsy, would lose her Supplemental Security Income and Tenncare if she continued to live with him. Both would have qualified for TennCare while still living together if Tennessee had expanded its Medicaid program.

The state's Lieutenant Governor called the situation tragic, but said he's leary of the state expanding Medicaid without a guarantee the federal government would pick up the tab.

"We as a state can't be like the federal government. We have to balance our budget, we have to look at what we can afford and what we can't afford. And I do think in the end, Medicaid expansion would have to be paid for by the taxpayers of Tennessee and we couldn't afford it," said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.

Governor Haslam's office has released this statement about the situation:

"Governor Haslam believes that more people having access to healthcare is a good thing, but you have to do in a way that controls costs and provides for better outcomes. The governor and administration continue to have discussions with HHS and CMS about the Tennessee Plan, the governor's approach for a third path to real healthcare reform for Tennessee."

WBIR reached out to TennCare about the situation and didn't receive a response.

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