Haslam: No decision yet on Medicaid expansion

Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 7:12pm

Gov. Bill Haslam said he is still studying whether to add more people to the state’s TennCare rolls despite a fellow Republican declaring on national TV that the state would refuse federal money linked to expanding Medicaid.

The governor — who is getting political pressure from legislators to reject the expansion — gave no timeline for when he plans to decide whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program, although Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn told MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday the governor would not accept the funds.

“She gets the right to say what she wants, but I feel like it’s our duty to do our homework,” Haslam told reporters after a Higher Education Commission meeting. “Medicaid/Tenncare, is such a huge portion of our budget and it keeps growing, and we have to make certain that we do everything to contain that. But also I think we have an obligation to do our homework and figure out the impact on us and the hospitals and on our citizens.”

An expansion would increase the number of people on the state’s TennCare program for low income children, pregnant women and elderly. The federal government has agreed to pay 100 percent of the costs for three years, then scale back funding to 90 percent.

Teams of Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are already lining up to force the state to ban the TennCare expansion, saying there is no guarantee the federal government will keep its word. Meanwhile, Democrats who are signing on with a competing bill to require the expansion, point out more people would have access to health care and rural hospitals are at risk of closure without growing the program.

But neither piece of legislation will get a chance at becoming law, said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.

He said he is in no hurry to decide whether to expand the program and said he would wait for Haslam’s administration to make a recommendation. Because there is no deadline for a decision, Ramsey said he wouldn’t be surprised if that decision came later this session, after lawmakers have adjourned for the year, or after a year of watching how other states have fared. A majority of lawmakers would still have to approve the expansion for it to become law.

“Before we jump into this, I want all the facts in front of me and I’m not deciding one way or another simply because I don’t know the answers,” Ramsey told reporters. “I’m not signing onto the bill and I will encourage the sponsor of this to hold off to see, let's get the facts in front of us first.”

4 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 1/31/13 at 11:26

Wjy not! Do we need have people in TN that needs medical help? Is so, why not help them. The GOP is the most selfish group of people until they need help. Did you notice that the two senators from GA voted against help for Sandy, but they now have asked for help because of damage done in GA when they had bad weather to go through their state?

By: Jughead on 2/1/13 at 9:50

@psswindle: I do not want to pay for baby-mama birthins, oxycontin runs, and xanax abuse. And, I despise people like you who say I have a social responsiblity to do so.

You are the problem with America. You have no problem spending other people's money. Turd.

By: ConservativeSailor on 2/1/13 at 11:42

You can thank Lyndon Johnson for Medicaid, part of his Great Society. Tenncare was expanded by Bredison and crew, who also gave us the $200,000,000 "Bunker". If Haslam wants to EXPAND it, what he'll do is attract new Tenncare recipients from states that use common sense in their versions of Medicaid.
We need to DISCOURAGE the influx of folks that are loads on the system. Get rid of every magnet we have that draws them here.
Medical care at the emergency room is required to be given to everyone, without regard for ability to pay. If the receiver is an illegal, a transient or any other person without the means to pay, the taxpayer gets the bill. This is wrong, but it's the law. Since it's the FEDERAL law, the State should be reimbursed 100% by Washington. So that's what the expansion says it will do. 100% of the new costs for the first 3 years, then 90% thereafter.
You have to ask, though: Where will all that money come from? There are four sources:
1. The Treasury can borrow it.
2. The Federal Reserve can print it.
3. Taxes can be raised to pay for it.
4. Other service can be cut back and the reductions in those costs used.
The first reduces the value of the Dollar, because it increases the interest the US pays on the National Debt.
The second reduces the value of the Dollar because it creates new dollars with no wealth behind them
The third reduces your spendable income, which simply means you have fewer dollars.
The fourth opens a can of worms. First, when was the last time any government REDUCED spending? Second, if they do, what services would you like them to cut? Bet your life it won't be EPA. It won't be Department of Energy. It won't be Department of Education. My guess: Social Security and Medicare, which are programs you've paid for all your life.
So, while it may be the compassionate thing to do to EXPAND Tenncare, financially it makes no sense. There comes a time when we must tell folks that make bad choices that they will have to take the results and live (or not) with them. That you have an accidental child does not place a burden on society to care for it while you have custody of it. That you have a second accidental child means that your habits need correction or you need to have either your tubes tied or a vasectomy.
If a paternity test shows you're the father of an illegitimate child, the law should allow half the expenses of that child to be withheld from your pay before you see a single dollar. And that's for every such child you father.
If you're the mother of an illegitimate child, you should be required to identify the father (so the State can confirm with a paternity test) before you receive the first dollar of benefits. If you either won't or can't identify the father then you should be required to be sterilized before receiving benefits or required to give up the child for adoption. If the child is born with drug- or alcohol-induced problems, you should be sterilized AND have the child removed.
Hard times require hard choices. These are hard times. Bad decisions made by A are not sources of responsibility for B. You are responsible for what you do (or fail to do). Not me.

By: Jughead on 2/1/13 at 12:31

All welfare and TennCare recipients should be required to submit to drug tests. Ask for a handout, get sober.

Of course, the "Progressives" will say that violates some right--the right to receive free stuff and stay intoxicated.