Ruling by Supreme Court gives unexpected twist to TennCare, governor says

Ruling by Supreme Court gives unexpected twist to TennCare, governor says

June 28th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

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NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam says there is an unexpected twist in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the federal health care law as it pertains to Tennessee and TennCare, the state's version of Medicaid.

In the 5-4 decision, justices said the Affordable Care Act's planned expansion of states' Medicaid programs for lower-income adults can move ahead.

But they also threw out a provision that threatened states with the loss of all their existing federal Medicaid funds if officials refused to go along with the expansion of the program to more people.

Officials in a number of states, including Tennessee and Georgia, have complained the provision will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.

"What was unanticipated is the section of the opinion that says states cannot be forced to expand their Medicaid program," Haslam said in a statement. "This particular portion of the ruling is significant, but it is premature to know the exact ramifications."

Haslam said his "primary issues with Obamacare are that it takes away the flexibility for states to encourage healthy behavior, will cost Tennessee hundreds of millions of dollars, and does nothing to solve the crisis of the cost of health care in America."

State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, however, hailed today's court decision upholding most of the law, including its individual mandate requiring most Americans to obtain insurance, which will be subsidized for some.

"I'm so elated," said Favors, a retired health facility administrator and registered nurse.

With so many Tennesseans currently uninsured, Favors said, the law will benefit hundreds of thousands of residents in areas such as preventative care. That's important, she said, in a state where residents fall into some of the nation's lowest rankings in areas like obesity and diabetes.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.