NFIB-TN Study Shows State Members ‘Wary’ of Insure Tennessee Plan

Press release from the Tennessee Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business; January 23, 2015:

NFIB/Tennessee Members Seeking More Answers about Plan Operability, Projections

State members of the National Federation of Independent Business are wary of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal according to a statewide member survey, said Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee, the state’s leading small business association.

Sixty-five percent oppose the current proposal, 22 percent favor and 13 percent are undecided.

“Many small business owners have reservations about the proposal, as currently structured,” Brown said. “They’re concerned with more federal borrowing, how the plan will operate, likely loopholes and a lack of benchmarks. Members appreciate core principles in the governor’s plan, but most aren’t convinced yet it would operate effectively enough and believe taxpayers would be pressured to foot any cost overruns.”

Specifically, members expressed the following concerns in the survey:

  • 87 percent say not establishing measurable outcomes and tying them to any continuance of the plan is troublesome; members are suspicious of relying on continuance of federal and/or state funding.
  • 80 percent believe the General Assembly should have more authority to terminate any unsound plan.
  • 71 percent believe our existing Medicaid plan should be reformed before considering expansion.

NFIB also has engaged the administration about other concerns being expressed, including how many Tennesseans would be eligible and how many employees might switch from their current employer-sponsored insurance.

Also, some members have concerns that co-pays would be at the discretion of the provider and not required, so some or many enrollees wouldn’t necessarily have “skin in the game,” while enrollees with unpaid premiums and removed from the plan would be eligible to reenroll immediately.

“NFIB members believe the governor deserves credit for taking on an issue that impacts hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans,” said Brown, noting NFIB’s past support for programs like Cover TN that expanded insurance to the working poor.

“Medicaid spending is straining Tennessee’s budget and is nearly back to 2005 levels, which impacts other important initiatives and programs,” he said.

“We will continue to encourage federal and state leaders to fix the broken Medicaid model and keep an open mind to any developments, including negotiations between the administration and the legislature.”