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Bowling, Winton disagree on expanding healthcare
State Sen. Janice Bowling, she is facing a challenge for her 16th District Senate seat by Democrat Mike Winton.

Healthcare in Tennessee continues to stir controversy.
State Sen. Janice Bowling knows this to be true since she was one of nine members on a committee that defeated Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan in 2015.
Bowling said Monday night she stands by her decision. Her comments were made during a political forum sponsored by Southern Standard and WCPI. She is facing a challenge for her 16th District Senate seat by Democrat Mike Winton.
“I was on the committee that actually had to determine whether we should expand Medicaid under Obamacare in Tennessee,” said Bowling. “Eighty-one percent of the people in Tennessee did not want to expand Medicaid under Obamacare … People kept talking about free money. There’s no free money. If you believe there’s free money I can sell you some property in Florida. The point is the money coming for expanding Medicaid in Tennessee was $800 billion over a 10-year period that would be taken from traditional Medicaid and Medicare. The people who have worked all their lives and paid for Medicare, all of a sudden the codes would no longer be there. So many of the states that chose to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act ended up going bankrupt. The hospitals have been put out.”
Bowling continued, “In Tennessee, 15 percent of the people would have been working, 85 percent would have been in the inner cities of Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and upper East Tennessee where they would then be given free health care at the expense of working people. So I told the governor these people he was talking about giving free health care to had to be able-bodied. That was part of the verbal agreement. Former Gov. Bredesen thought this was a terribly negotiated agreement, that it would actually take Tennessee backwards. Some state were worried it would cause them to spend 22 to 25 percent of their income on healthcare. In Tennessee, we already spend 33 percent of our income, $10.8 billion, to give the truly indigent and those who cannot provide healthcare for themselves free healthcare in Tennessee.”
Winton disagrees and says the state should expand healthcare to cover more people in need.
“Insure Tennessee is one position that Sen. Bowling and I disagree on,” said Winton. “When I see people and they come to me and they say I work 30 hours a week and they won’t let me be full-time. I have three children in the armed services and I can’t get insurance. And our governor prepared a proposal that was fitted for 300,000 Tennesseans to have insurance, 300,000, and 2,000 of those were in Warren County. The sad part is 24,000 veterans don’t have health insurance because we didn’t see fit to do it. The hospitals made an obligation to pay their 10 percent that was going to be our obligation and today out of all the monies that were taken from this program in state government, nobody has sent me a check or a refund for the $2.5 billion that’s already been spent somewhere. I want to utilize this for the state of Tennessee and the people who need it.”
After hearing those comments from Winton, Bowling maintained her stance.
“I would not change my vote on Insure Tennessee because it was misrepresented from the get-go,” said Bowling. “It would have never have helped the veterans. They get VA health. And also it was not anything that would have helped rural hospitals. It was for the four large teaching hospitals in the inner cities and that’s well documented.”
When asked about the state’s prescription drug problem, Winton said Tennessee has to do more. Tennessee has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation for prescription drug abuse.
“We have to take responsibility for our medical professionals who are using this, in some cases, as a money income, and just blatantly writing a prescription for personal gain,” said Winton. “It’s dangerous and I want to be able to create solid support for prescription drug abuse within our state. I see this a lot. When you see people who are hurting, when you see people who have been put in this position, sometimes they get doctors who give them a prescription just to get rid of them. Sometimes they don’t even know what the ailment is and I want to hold those people responsible for this situation.”