Harwellcare task force talks ‘circuit breakers’

Members of a health care task force assigned with proposing alternatives to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan on Tuesday stressed their desire to include “circuit breakers” to prevent out-of-control costs, reports the Times-Free Press.

The panel was appointed by Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville earlier this month to design the plan expanding access to health coverage to present to the federal government this summer.

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini criticized the panel as a “political show” to give Republicans cover for voting last year to reject Haslam’s plan to extend coverage to 280,000 low-income people in the state.

…The panel was joined Tuesday by Republican Sen. Richard Briggs of Knoxville, who voted in favor of Insure Tennessee last year, and Democratic Rep. Karen Camper of Memphis.

Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said he was concerned that the governor’s proposal wouldn’t have allowed for the program to pause and take stock of growing enrollment.

Hill said his preference would be to “roll it out in phases, keep in measurable and most important keep it measureable, with circuit-breakers and stuff, so that we can keep control.”

“Instead of, ‘Plop, here’s the 280,000 to 300,000 people, and good luck,'” he said.

Further, from The Tennessean:
Outgoing TennCare Director Darin Gordon and his successor, Dr. Wendy Long, provided lawmakers with a crash course on the state’s health care system.

Outgoing TennCare Director Darin Gordon and his successor, Dr. Wendy Long, provided lawmakers with a crash course on the state’s health care system.

Long said the state of health care in Tennessee is a result of the Affordable Care Act. Some states, including Tennessee, didn’t expand Medicaid under the federal legislation, and that created a coverage gap.

“When the Supreme Court made it optional whether states would do that expansion, it created this coverage gap,” she said.

Those who are in the gap do not qualify for Medicaid coverage and don’t make enough to qualify for tax credits to buy insurance from the federal government, Long said.

She said the group largely consists of employees in the food service, construction and transportation industry, as well as an estimated 24,000 veterans.

…During his portion of the presentation, Gordon largely focused on what the state would need to incorporate in a plan in order to remain eligible for federal funding. Such requirements include covering all childless adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and anyone considered “medically frail,” Gordon said.