Letter from Tennessee Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville; February 2, 2015:
In just over an hour, the 109th General Assembly will convene in a special session called by the governor to consider his Insure Tennessee plan.
After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the section of the Affordable Care Act mandating the expansion of Medicaid, states have had the option to expand Medicaid on their own, initially funded 100% by the federal government. Unfortunately, Tennessee has not expanded Medicaid, which has left hundreds of thousands needlessly without insurance, cost Tennessee almost $1 billion, and led to lost jobs and closed hospitals.
The governor has still not agreed to seek an expansion of Medicaid. His Insure Tennessee plan, however, would extend insurance coverage to a large portion of Tennessee’s uninsured population, many of whom work full-time but still can’t afford insurance. You can read more about the Governor’s plan here.
I talked with so many of you on the campaign trail about how important it is for Tennesseans to have coverage they can count on and afford. While Insure Tennessee may not be perfect, it’s a common sense solution that will benefit the people of Tennessee. And so, I’m going to support it this week.
Over the last month, there has been widespread support for Insure Tennessee from all corners. The governor’s plan has the support of the business community and organized labor.The health care community – our hospitals, phsycians and advocates – overwhelmingly supports this plan, as has virtually every editorial page in the state. Regardless of whether they are Democrats or Republicans, reasonable people across this state know that we cannot afford to do nothing.
This plan will lead to more people in Tennessee with affordable health coverage. It will save jobs and make it less likely that hospitals will close. And it will not increase the tax burden of Tennesseans, who are already paying the federal taxes that support this program. It’s a no-brainer.
You will hear opponents this week rail against this as Obamacare, but you likely will not hear them provide a serious alternative. You will read media clips about the Governor’s political capital and the support among his own party. But this week can’t just be about politics. This is serious business for the people of our state, and we as members of the legislature must treat this as a problem to solve rather than as a political game to win or lose.
It’s time now for the legislature to get to work.