Hospitals Project 90,000 Job Loss Without Medicaid Expansion; Haslam to Decide While Legislature in Session

The state’s hospitals are playing out the “what if’s” as lawmakers consider whether to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care overhaul with a study that study says 90,000 Tennessee jobs could be lost if the expansion does not occur.
From WPLN:
Without expanding who is covered by Medicaid – known as TennCare in Tennessee – hospitals say there could be a “recessionary impact.” Hospitals agreed to cuts that total billions of dollars, believing they would see fewer uninsured. But that assumption is in jeopardy.
State Senator Brian Kelsey is trying to prevent the state from expanding Medicaid.
“Look, my job is not to bail out the special interest hospital lobby. (said Kelsey) My job is to represent Tennessee taxpayers.”
Kelsey defended his position on a panel discussion with the Tennessee Hospital Association and Medicaid advocate Gordon Bonnyman of the Tennessee Justice Center.
Bonnyman often tangles with hospitals, but he’s taking their side.
“I would be the first to say they have been known to cry wolf. The wolf is at the door now. I say that as an amiable adversary of the hospital association.”
Governor Bill Haslam says he plans to make a decision on Medicaid expansion before the legislature wraps up work for the year in the spring.

On Haslam’s comment, Andy Sher has the precise quote:
“Any decision we make, I promise you, we’re going to get the Legislature to approve,” the Republican governor said after speaking at a Tennessee Press Association and The Associated Press luncheon.
“We’d love to decide that prior to their leaving. It just makes it neater.”

The Tennessee Hospital Association study also projects that a combination of federal law factors will have a $5.6 billion negative impact on Tennessee’s economy without Medicaid expansion. From the Tennessean:
Craig Becker, the association’s president, warned of the problems hospitals face in the years to come.
“Tennessee’s hospitals are entering a serious fiscal crisis, the likes of which we have never seen in our history,” Becker said in a news release. “For our state to absorb cuts of this size and scope, without using every possible means to offset the cuts, will create a ripple effect, the likes of which Tennessee communities have never seen before.”
The THA says the $5.6 billion estimate is based on tallying the impact from the Affordable Care Act, the Budget Control Act of 2011, the Job Creation Act of 2012 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
The trade group used an economic impact modeling program to estimate how the cuts would affect the 78 counties in Tennessee that have hospitals.

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