NASHVILLE - A long-expected plan for a Medicaid expansion in Tennessee could be placed before federal officials soon, Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday. If the feds approve, an estimated 180,000 low-income state residents could be eligible for subsidized health insurance.
"I think we'll probably go to them sometime this fall with a plan ... that we think makes sense for Tennessee," the Republican told reporters in response to questions.
It's the first significant development in months over Tennessee's ongoing struggle to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law.
Haslam so far has declined to accept hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds absent a special waiver of federal rules that he says will save money and result in better health care. Nearly 18 months ago he announced a "Tennessee Plan," but he never submitted a formal request and has only discussed general concepts of what leeway the state could get.
He later asked U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to come up her own plan that would work in Tennessee.
Haslam's statements came as the state NAACP and other advocates earlier in the day castigated the governor and Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the state Senate speaker, for refusing to expand the program.
Read more in Friday's Times Free Press.