The Health and Welfare Committee of the Tennessee Senate on Thursday voted 7‒4 against a bill that would allow Gov. Bill Haslam (R) to expand Medicare, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act.
The vote essentially kills the Republican governor’s plan to create “Insure Tennessee” for adults in the state who make less than 138 percent of the poverty level.
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“The Tennessee Senate Health Committee made the right decision for Tennessee taxpayers and patients by opposing a federally induced expansion of a broken Medicaid system. Expansion would have simply added more people to an already costly system that delivers underachieving health care. The state should first focus on reforming the current Medicaid system in a way that delivers quality, cost-effective health care to those who need it most.”
“The Tennessee Senate Health and Welfare Committee was wise to reject Gov. Haslam’s (R) Medicaid expansion proposal. While it attempted to cloak Medicaid expansion in so-called ‘free-market’ reforms, it still represented a massive expansion of the same flawed, unfunded Medicaid program that is already drowning in debt. While it is easy to depict the new federal funds provided through Medicaid as ‘free money,’ it simply isn’t true.
“Medicaid expansion is expensive, creating new costs the federal government may not cover forever into the future and leaving state taxpayers on the hook for the new liabilities. Opponents of expansion note the program is already stretching states thin financially and has a poor track record of providing cost-effective and efficient care. Medicaid is currently the largest category of state spending; according to the National Association of State Budget Officers, Medicaid consumes 23.6 percent of state government expenditures.”
“Tennessee’s uninsured poor deserve better than a failing welfare program that all too often locks beneficiaries out of timely access to care. It’s time for the state’s political leadership to begin pushing for real reform of Medicaid and health care for the poor, beginning with demanding full control of Medicaid and the freedom to experiment and innovate.”
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