Medicaid Expansion: Arkansas Plan Eyed; Shelby Mayor Backs It

Gov. Bill Haslam’s health policy specialists are probing into what Arkansas is doing with respect to increasing Medicaid coverage as part of federal Affordable Care Act reform initiatives, according to TNReport.
During a press conference last week in Nashville, Tennessee’s Republican chief executive said his administration is “learning some things” from policies being pursued under Obamacare by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat.
Beebe appears to have secured approval from the Obama administration to funnel federal dollars earmarked for Medicaid expansions into private insurance for those eligible. According to the Washington Post’s “Wonkblog” today, other states considering such an approach are Florida, Ohio, Louisiana and Maine and perhaps even Texas.
…Republicans in the Tennessee Legislature are divided between those who want to inoculate Tennessee against Obamacare to the greatest extent possible, and those who’re inclined to defer to Gov. Haslam to prescribe policy treatments that best suit the state’s unique conditions.
“Nobody likes the idea of just a sort of blanket Obamacare expansion, but that’s not what the governor is looking at,” said Mark Norris, the Tennessee Senate majority leader. “He’s real curious about what is happening in Arkansas, with their initiative to use Medicaid dollars for private insurance.”
Norris said he doesn’t anticipate Haslam making any decisions that could potentially put state government over a financial barrel. “He’s doing his due diligence. He’s doing what a good governor ought to do,” said the Republican from Collierville.
Norris added, “I have enough respect for the separation of powers and the three branches of government, and this particular governor, to wait and let him reach his own decision before we jump in and try to preempt something that he may never do anyway.”


And from the Commercial Appeal:
Shelby County’s Mayor Mark Luttrell has encouraged Gov. Bill Haslam to pursue expansion of Tennessee’s Medicaid program, saying in a letter that the benefits of extending health coverage to 60,000 to 80,000 additional low-income Shelby County residents outweigh the concerns.
The mayor, like Haslam a Republican, also said the impacts of not participating in the Medicaid expansion authorized by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act “would be damaging to The Med, if not devastating.”

Leave a Reply