Press Release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus, Jan. 15, 2014:
Democrats join Republicans in calling for more details on Haslam’s Tennessee Plan
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Democrats are joining with Republican leadership in calling for details on a plan by Governor Haslam to expand Medicaid in Tennessee. On the house floor yesterday and in media interviews, Republican leadership has called on proponents of accepting federal Medicaid expansion funds to explain what taxes they will raise or what programs they will cut in order to fund the five to ten percent share of the cost in coming years.
“As a former Finance Chairman, I completely understand the majority party’s desire to plan ahead for the future,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “As soon as Governor Haslam gives a copy of his ‘Tennessee plan’ to the legislature, we can score that legislation and determine the best possible revenue streams to cover our ten percent share of the cost after 2020.”
Governor Haslam announced last year that he was working with the Obama administration on a “Tennessee Plan” to expand Medicaid. The full details of the plan have not been released to the legislature, which is the necessary next step in determining the full fiscal impact on the state going forward.
“I truly hope my Republican colleagues want to stop playing politics and seriously discuss the policy implications of a Medicaid expansion in Tennessee,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “Whether we do a straight expansion of Medicaid, or adopt a hybrid plan, the fiscal, economic and moral costs of inaction will vastly outweigh the relatively small budget impact in the years going forward. We look forward to seeing the Governor’s plan so we can debate the best way to fund it in future years.”
Last year Leader Fitzhugh introduced legislation that would have enabled Governor Haslam’s administration to accept an average of $2.5 million a day from the federal government in order to expand Medicaid. To date, nearly $37.5 million in Tennessee tax dollars have left the state because Republicans in the legislature opposed giving the Governor that authority.
The states of Iowa and Arkansas have hybrid plans already approved by the administration. To date, the Governor has not submitted a full plan for approval to either the federal government or the Tennessee General Assembly.