Tennessee may be running out of steam in its months-long search for a compromise to expand Medicaid as part of the federal healthcare overhaul.
Skipping it means passing up hundreds of millions of federal dollars to treat poor people, but Republicans in the state still want little if anything to do with ‘Obamacare.’
Governor Bill Haslam has been in talks with Washington for months, trying to find a deal that meets federal requirements but is palatable to state lawmakers. The hangup, says House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, is all that free money wouldn’t stay free forever.
REPORTER: “Is it kind of painful to see these hundreds of millions of federal dollars aiding other states, and passing Tennessee by?”
CASADA: “The problem is it’s kind of like when my daughter says ‘Hey Dad, we need to buy this dress, because it’s 50 percent off.’ And it is 50 percent off, it’s just the other 50 percent I have to come up with.”
After a few years the state would have to kick in 10 percent. Casada doesn’t sound optimistic, nor does Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, who said last week “the news keeps getting worse instead of better.” Ramsey also downplayed the potential fallout for hospitals, even as some say missing so much federal money will put them out of business.
While the governor has not officially given up on a deal, he said in May “if we haven’t made real progress by this summer, it will show we’re not going to.”