Medicaid Expansion Decision Still on the Governor's To-Do List

Mar 25, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — This may be the week that Governor Haslam announces whether he will support expanding Medicaid in Tennessee.

Proponents say the money for expanding Medicaid on offer from the federal government is too good a deal to pass up. But detractors point to Tennessee’s failed experiment to expand TennCare in the 1990s as evidence that Washington is an unreliable partner.

Federal funding for TennCare was cut after the White House and governorship changed hands, straining state budgets and setting off a fight over taxes that reshaped Tennessee's political landscape.

Craig Becker of the Tennessee Hospital Association says he understands the risks, but believes Medicaid expansion is still a good bet for Tennessee, especially for some of its smaller communities.

“We’ve heard from, actually, some of our smaller and rural hospitals who’ve done the numbers, and they are absolutely convinced that without expansion and without additional coverage that they will close and there’s quite a few of these in communities where they’re the sole provider of healthcare.”

If Governor Haslam does decide in favor of Medicaid expansion, he’ll have his work cut out convincing a reluctant, GOP dominated legislature to go along.