Tennessee's Governor Haslam May Expand Medicaid

Sunday, 13 Jul 2014 09:17 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam will meet with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to discuss possible Medicaid expansion in his state, USA Today reported. The meeting will be held on the sidelines of the National Governors Association's 106th Summer Meeting in Nashville which ends July 13th.

Burwell replaced Kathleen Sebelius who left her job after the bungled implementation of Obamacare.

Tennessee has shrunk its TennCare program, bucking a national trend which has seen expansion of Medicaid coverage. On average, Tennessee spends less on Medicaid per resident than other states, according to The Tennessean.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services director Cindy Mann has written to Tennessee authorities to complain that the state was not meeting its obligations under the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the state's computer system does not reliably confirm eligibility status or process streamlined applications, The Washington Post reported.

The governor said that Tennessee healthcare providers and insurers might be prepared to trade pay-for-service arrangements in return for an expanded TennCare.

"I wouldn't call it a totally new start," Haslam said of the meeting. "But I think when you have a new, key player it matters to sit down," USA Today reported.

Massachusetts has been able to provide practically universal coverage for the uninsured by offering physicians reimbursement on the basis of patient outcomes instead of specific services provided.

Five states that expanded Medicaid coverage reduced the cost of caring for the uninsured by 30 percent, Bill Rutherford, of the Hospital Corporation of America told the Governor's Conference, according to USA Today.

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