From the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gov. Bill Halsam promised a decision on expanding Medicaid today, but instead delivered a “no” dressed up as a year of delayed action and indecision.
“We expected clarity today on Medicaid, but all we got was confusion,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Sen. Lowe Finney said. “Our rural hospitals and the uninsured will be the ones to suffer.”
The governor gave a definitive “no” on expanding Medicaid. He instead pitched a so-called “Tennessee plan,” but it’s unclear whether the plan will work. Meanwhile, federal payments to hospitals for uncompensated care will end Jan. 1.
“This is a time when the people of Tennessee need clear, precise and bold leadership, and Governor Haslam offered none of that today,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said. “It’s a failure of our moral obligation to protect the health and welfare of the most vulnerable among us. It’s a failure that will be paid with the lives of the working poor in our state – this is quite simply shameful.”
According to the Tennessee Hospital Association, the projected statewide job loss without the Medicaid expansion will be 90,000 jobs. In addition, they estimate that there will be an economic loss to the state of nearly $13 billion.
“I truly believed that the governor was going to use this opportunity to show real leadership,” House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh said. “Instead we’ve seen more of the hand-wringing and delayed action that we’ve become accustomed to. Lives will be lost while we wait for a real decision.”
Hospital administrators, health care advocates, chambers of commerce, mayors of cities both big and small, and many others have implored the governor over the past year to expand Medicaid.
“The governor made this decision in a vacuum without consulting leaders from either party,” Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle said. “We’ve heard from a broad coalition of groups who will suffer if we don’t expand Medicaid, and apparently their concerns fell on deaf ears.
“It matters who governs.”
From Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey:
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) said the following upon the conclusion
of Governor Haslam’s address to a joint session of the 108th General Assembly:
“I applaud Governor Haslam’s decision to reject Obama’s medicaid expansion.
Without bold reform of the Medicaid program tailored to Tennessee’s unique
situation, there can be no compromise on this issue.”
“Four out of every ten dollars the federal government spends comes out of the
back pockets of future generations. Tennessee must receive assurances that have
not been forthcoming. Governor Haslam has laid out a plan for what true health
care reform looks like. I commend him for his continued thoughtful and measured
approach to this complex issue.”
From Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville issued the following statement in response to Governor Bill Haslam’s rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage to as many as 300,000 working families in Tennessee:
“A great opportunity to expand essential health coverage to 300,000 low-wage earners — servers, store clerks, farm hands — has been squandered because of extreme politics and a failure of leadership.
“Every Tennessean who works for a living deserves the dignity and security of being able to go the doctor when they get sick or hurt.
“The truest measure of a state is how we treat our most vulnerable citizens, and sadly, this is one more irresponsible decision in a line of many that punishes working and middle class families.”
From U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais:
Washington, DC – Congressman Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (TN-04) released the following statement on Governor Haslam’s announcement to not adopt the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion:
“Expanding Medicaid based on a promise the federal government will pick up the tab is short-sighted. Washington’s unsustainable deficit spending means we will likely see a situation where the funds devoted to paying for the Medicaid expansion dry up, forcing states to foot the bill. It is my hope that the administration will listen to the local voices echoing across this country that the Obama plan will not work.”
From Sen. Lamar Alexander:
NASHVILLE, March 27 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statement on Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s announcement today that he will pursue greater state flexibility in increasing access to health care for Tennesseans, instead of expanding Tennessee’s Medicaid program, TennCare:
“I trust Governor Haslam to do what is in the best interest of Tennesseans. I will do all I can to help the state get the flexibility he has asked for.”
From the Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron issued a statement Wednesday in response to Governor Bill Haslam’s rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid.
“Deuteronomy 30 urges us to ‘choose life,’ but self-proclaimed ‘pro-life’ Republicans applauded the governor denying health insurance to 300,000 Tennesseans in working families, even though that means each week another parent, another child, another loved one — or two — will die,” Herron said. “Reactionary and radical Republicans should never again call themselves ‘pro-life,’ not while condemning working Tennesseans without health insurance to die.”
In 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in an article called “Mortality and Access to Care among Adults after State Medicaid Expansions” that lives can be saved by expanding Medicaid.
“Tennessee should choose science instead of selfishness, people instead of politics, life instead of death,” Herron said.
From Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “Governor Haslam offered a good solution, rather than expanding an unsustainable and broken program. Unlike Washington, Tennessee has been working hard to control health care costs. Hopefully, Washington will see our 20-year record of working through the problems we face with our healthcare system and agree to work with us on a plan that will truly be both beneficial to improving healthcare outcomes in our state and sustainable over the long run.”
From Tennessee Health Care Campaign:
After months of studying the options, impacts, and costs associated with expanding Medicaid, Governor Bill Haslam announced today that his administration would not accept the federal funds to cover Tennessee’s uninsured.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes health insurance more accessible by expanding state Medicaid programs to include more low-income individuals and families (including childless adults). The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last summer that states should have the option – not the requirement – to expand their Medicaid program. For states that choose to expand, the federal government has promised to match 100% of the expansion costs for the first three years beginning in 2014. That match stair-steps down to 90% by 2020 where it will remain.
“To say that we are disappointed would be an understatement,” commented Brad A. Palmertree, Interim Executive Director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, a nonprofit health care consumer advocacy organization in Nashville. “Governor Haslam had the opportunity to show real leadership for the people of Tennessee. We all know that those who need insurance the most are usually the ones who cannot afford it. Because of his decision, there will still be hundreds of thousands of uninsured Tennesseans. These will be children who will go without needed vaccinations, baby boomers who will continue to put off needed care, and individuals living with disabilities without needed aids.”
Hospitals, chambers of commerce, insurers, faith groups, and provider groups have recognized the numerous benefits of expanding Tennessee’s Medicaid program to cover the uninsured. Tennessee Health Care Campaign hopes that Governor Haslam will reconsider his decision and will provide the leadership needed to implement meaningful health reform so that working low-income Tennesseans can be productive, contributing members of their community with access to affordable health care.
NASHVILLE, TN — “While we are disappointed that we are not able to move forward today, we are glad that Governor Haslam continues to be interested in finding a way to provide health insurance for hard-working folks and their families. We are greatly concerned about the health care needs of individuals close to poverty as well as hospitals which are struggling to pay for care for those who are not insured,” said Rebecca Kelly, State Director for AARP Tennessee. “We are anxious to learn more about the Tennessee Plan and will work with the governor and the Legislature to arrive at the best solution for Tennessee.”
A report commissioned by AARP on behalf of a Healthy Tennessee can be found at http://bit.ly/16KefMN
From Sen. Bob Corker:
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., released the following statement today regarding Governor Haslam’s announcement that he will seek more flexibility to use federal money to expand private health insurance coverage, rather than expanding Tennessee’s Medicaid program, TennCare.
“I’ve had several conversations with Governor Haslam and appreciate that he has studied this issue extensively, weighed the options and chosen the course he feels is best for Tennessee,” said Corker.