NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam announced today that he would not currently seek Tennessee’s participation in a Medicaid expansion as envisioned by President Obama’s signature healthcare law. Instead, Haslam will focus on reforming the entitlement program known in the state as TennCare.
The Beacon Center of Tennessee applauds Gov. Haslam on his decision. The governor has spent much time and energy studying the impact of a Medicaid expansion. After the federal government rejected his request for flexibility to reform TennCare in lieu of an outright expansion, he rightly concluded that merely expanding the program now is bad policy for both TennCare recipients and taxpayers alike.
Over the past several months, the Beacon Center has worked to inform policymakers and the general public that a Medicaid expansion would be unaffordable and immoral. Through policy reports, media interviews, opinion articles, and an infographic, the Beacon Center made the case that both taxpayers and TennCare recipients would be harmed by an expansion.
“We are proud of Gov. Haslam for standing up against this ill-conceived plan to add more struggling Tennesseans to a broken TennCare program,” said Beacon Center CEO Justin Owen. “Even President Obama himself said that healthcare reform should not be just about adding more people to the rolls of the government-run healthcare program before seeking to do just that.”
TennCare already eats up 27 cents on every dollar in the state budget, higher than the national average. Rather than expand the program, the governor and lawmakers should consider meaningful reforms that will make TennCare more sustainable and increase recipients’ access to care. A Medicaid expansion would have done the exact opposite, thus making it unaffordable and immoral.
“Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and press for real reforms that will improve the quality of life for TennCare enrollees and protect taxpayers’ wallets,” Owen said. “We look forward to helping advance reforms that will do just that.”
The Beacon Center of Tennessee’s mission is to change lives through public policy by advancing the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.