Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to not expand TennCare rolls under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called ObamaCare, has been greeted with a mixed reaction by state lawmakers.
“It’s going to cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars over a three-year period,” said state Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta. “I don’t think this is good, no question about it. But the governor didn’t have much of a choice. There was no way it was going to pass.”
Curtiss said with Republican majorities in both the Tennessee House and Senate, he didn’t believe there were enough votes for the state to accept funds from the Affordable Care Act, regardless of what the governor did.
State Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, said rejecting funds from ObamaCare is the more responsible thing to do.
“Gov. Bredesen did a good job several years ago of making some tough decisions and cutting the TennCare rolls down to the people who really need it,” said Bowling. “Expanding it would have just added more people and taken us back to those days. The plan would not have reform how medical services are delivered. It would have just made them free to more people.”
In announcing he would not expand TennCare under the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Haslam said he would like Tennessee to go a different route.
“I believe Tennessee can also be a model for what true healthcare reform looks like, reform that will take significant steps to save the state and the nation from the unsustainable path we are on now,” said Haslam.
Haslam introduced a plan that would take on the critical issue of aligning incentives among users, payers and healthcare providers. The plan would:
• Leverage available federal dollars to purchase private health insurance for Tennesseans up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level who don’t have access to health insurance, which would translate to 175,000 more insured Tennesseans
• Allow co-pays for those who can afford to pay something
• Include a definitive circuit-breaker or sunset of the plan that could only be renewed with the General Assembly’s approval
• Reform the payment structure for providers so they are compensated for health outcomes, not just based on services performed.
State Rep. Judd Matheny praised Haslam for moving forward with a plan to ensure all Tennesseans have access to quality and affordable healthcare without being tied down by federal bureaucracy and mandates. He also praised the governor for thoroughly researching the issue and approaching it in a thoughtful manner.