White House Report Urges Tennessee Medicaid Expansion

Jul 3, 2014

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 More than 230,000 Tennesseans could see better access to heath services and avoid big medical bills if the state expanded its TennCare rolls, according to a new federal report.

The analysis from the White House Council of Economic Advisors looked at data from the 26 states that have expanded Medicaid rolls, and from the 24 states that haven't. It estimated nearly 11,000 Tennesseans could face potentially steep out-of-pocket expenses for their health care, and perhaps more than 33,000 would have to borrow money to pay medical bills.

Political will in Nashville has generally been opposed to Medicaid expansion. A major point of contention for legislative Republicans has been how to pay for the expansion. Governor Bill Haslam has expressed skepticism toward the standard plan, in which the federal government shoulders most of the expenses at first, with the state chipping in after the first few years.

Haslam's office told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the governor is still pursuing federal approval for a second option, in which Tennessee would use federal money to help consumers purchase their own health insurance. Similar proposals have already been approved for Arkansas, Michigan and Iowa.