Sullivan County Commission takes 'neutral position' in state's response to Affordable Care Act

J. H. Osborne • Feb 20, 2013 at 9:50 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Commission voted overwhelmingly Tuesday in support of the county asking state lawmakers to “make decisions that do not damage hospitals, Medicare and Medicaid patients in the state.”

Sponsoring commissioners Eddie Williams and John Crawford introduced the measure during the commission’s monthly meeting and called for an immediate vote.

County Mayor Steve Godsey later took credit for prompting the resolution, which he said was crafted by attorneys for Wellmont Health System.

Godsey said he met with Wellmont officials last week and they requested the County Commission’s action on the issue.

Godsey said he had told them the county wouldn’t take sides but would be willing to ask state lawmakers to “take a look at everything” when considering Tennessee’s response to the federal Affordable Care Act.

“They wanted us to take a position,” Godsey said. “I said no.”

Godsey said he didn’t want to risk coming out contrary to Gov. Bill Haslam on the issue.

Godsey said the commission needed to vote on the resolution because the Tennessee General Assembly will likely act soon on the topic.

Godsey described the resolution as leaving the County Commission with a “neutral position.”

The resolution, in part, indicates the county requests “state lawmakers closely peruse the details of The Affordable Care Act so as not to reduce the amount of Medicare funds coming into Tennessee and its additional effects on hospitals and Medicaid patients.”

The resolution states:

• Without the expansion of Medicaid coverage in Tennessee, subsequent cuts to hospitals are unsustainable.

• The federal government would pay the full cost of the expansion for the first three years, followed by a decline in the federal share to 95 percent, 94 percent, 93 percent, and 90 percent in subsequent years.

• The cost to the state to expand coverage in Tennessee would be $199.1 million over 5.5 years — and Tennessee would receive $6.4 billion from the federal government to expand coverage.

Godsey said Wellmont has asked or will be asking all local governments to adopt similar resolutions.

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