GOP legislation would bar Tennessee from expanding Medicaid under Affordable Care Act

GOP legislation would bar Tennessee from expanding Medicaid under Affordable Care Act

January 24th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Gov. Bill Haslam

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - A Republican House member and 21 colleagues today introduced legislation that would bar Tennessee from participating in the expansion of Medicaid called for under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, said Tennessee taxpayers "cannot afford the long-term financial burden of expanding our Medicaid rolls."

The freshman lawmaker said that "due to the extreme uncertainty surrounding the federal fiscal situation, it is increasingly important that we as legislators exercise fiscal responsibility and not accept federal funds to expand programs that we're not prepared to fund ourselves."

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam remains undecided on whether he will pursue the Medicaid expansion, which is estimated to affect 200,000 low-income adult men and women.

"The governor is a fiscal conservative and understands what this would mean to the financial situation of our state," Durham said. "I suspect he's just doing his homework."

Durham said he introduced the legislation because of bill filing deadlines.

"I'm hopeful that he [Haslam] will agree," Durham said.

In upholding the 2010 federal law, the U.S. Supreme Court made it optional for states to decide whether to expand their Medicaid programs. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, has said he won't pursue expanding his state's Medicaid program for the poor.

The federal law, dubbed "Obamacare" would expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate. The federal government will pay for 100 percent of the expansion for the first three years before gradually scaling down its share to 90 percent in 2019.

TennCare is Tennessee's version of Medicaid.

Co-sponsors include Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga.

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