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Haslam is hurting Tennessee by refusing Medicaid expansion

DEBORAH ROYALTY • Apr 17, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Gov. Bill Haslam’s refusal to expand Medicaid and his requests for a special arrangement for Tennessee under the Affordable Care Act is an indulgent political ploy that is undermining our state. Haslam’s action, or inaction, proves his inability to govern.The refusal to accept federal funding and expand Medicaid places Tennesseans in a “coverage gap” that renders them ineligible for the federal subsidies to obtain private health insurance. Without the subsidy, too many Tennesseans cannot afford health insurance. Without the federal funds to expand Medicaid, the state must then provide the funding. Who will pay for that? Meanwhile, our neighboring state, Kentucky, is reaping the rewards of Obamacare and doing quite well, while we Tennesseans are helping to pay for their coverage.It is not only individual coverage being sacrificed in Tennessee. Many of our hospitals and clinics are suffering because they are not receiving the federal funding to keep them operating. This is especially true for our rural health care providers, and Tennessee has a hefty number of rural areas.The Nashville Scene reported: “Rural hospitals in Tennessee have been laying off workers and cutting services to the bone thanks to our Republican supermajority’s refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.”Surveys taken in rural hospitals and clinics in Tennessee report that not only is staff being cut back, but cancer treatment and maternity care facilities are being closed. Without the federal subsidies provided by Obamacare, many of these hospitals and clinics will be forced to close.Haslam’s decision to refuse Medicaid expansion and accept federal funds causes both Tennessee’s economy and health to suffer. The effects of the decision impairs all Tennesseans, rich and poor alike.DEBORAH ROYALTYJohnson City

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