Haslam: No expansion of TennCare ‘right now’

Hank Hayes • Feb 8, 2014 at 9:14 PM

KINGSPORT — Any notion of Tennessee giving more people health insurance coverage by expanding the state’s Medicaid program appears to be dead for now, according to Gov. Bill Haslam.

Haslam announced in March 2013 he would not expand the Medicaid program — called TennCare — under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but would attempt to leverage federal dollars to purchase private health insurance for Tennesseans who did not have access to coverage.

He called for a “Tennessee Plan” that would give people coverage much like ACA’s federal health insurance exchanges. His administration estimated another 175,000 Tennesseans could get coverage.

But Haslam wanted those covered to come up with co-pays, and he also desired a payment structure for providers so they could be compensated for health outcomes, not just services performed.

Haslam has been trying to sell his plan to the federal government, through the Department of Health and Human Services, and he admits the talks have been unsuccessful.

“I haven’t done a really good job explaining what the issues are,” Haslam, a Republican, said of the talks during a meeting with members of the Times-News Editorial Board.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday’s print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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