Johnson City Press Saturday, September 20, 2014
Opinion

Tri-Cities: a wonderful place that could use a boost

March 24th, 2014 9:06 am by EDWARD J. DWYER

Tri-Cities: a wonderful place that could use a boost

Our state legislators adamantly refuse to accept $1.4 billion originally destined for Medicaid/TennCare expansion as part of Obamacare. In addition, our legislators appear determined to reject the same amount in 2015 and 2016 making their total rejection of funds approximately $4.2 billion. Granted, many legisl~tors are not well schooled in principles of good business but our Governor, Bill Haslam, certainly, knows what a boost this would be to our economy. However, the Governor seems rather indifferent, not only to the positive economic impact of the funds but also to the citizens who would most directly benefit from Medicaid/TennCare expansion.
Rejecting the funds does not just penalize people who need assistance through TennCare. The $4.2 billion in costs will not disappear. For example, an emergency room visit that might cost $1,700 would likely cost well over $2,000.00, since hospitals would have to ~ake ‘up for money lost because of our legislators’ determination not to accept Medicaid expansion. Consequently, our legislators’ refusal to accept the $4.2 billion (which Comes free of charge from the federal government) generates a tax on everyone in Tenqe~se~. Cpn.gr~ssman Phil Roe recently expressed his concern over job loses a MSHA affiliated health care facilities in our area and the very real possibility of Vanderbilt losing approximately 1~000 health care positions. In addition, we might well see health care professionals leaving Tennessee, especially recent graduates of area medical education programs. Job opportunities for medical personnel are plentiful in our neighboring states, Virginia and Kentucky, who have agreed to Medicaid expansion and are cheerfully accepting the abundant funds provided.
The Tri-Cities is a wonderful place to live. Our area should be a magnet for retirees who could provide a substantial boost to the economy. However, available medical care and
positive dispositions toward medical care among local and state political leaders are very important issues to retirees and all other potential residents. The present stance of our state legislators gives the impression that medical care for all of our citizens takes a back seat to political posturing

EDWARD J. DWYER
Johnson City

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