Job cuts and construction delays at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are weighing on Governor Bill Haslam. On Friday, he travels to Washington D.C. in hopes of hammering out a compromise on expanding the state’s Medicaid program – a move that has been characterized as vital to the health of Tennessee hospitals.
Without any kind of expansion in Medicaid – known as TennCare in the state – the Tennessee Hospital Association has warned that some facilities will close. Rural, community hospitals are the most vulnerable.
Governor Haslam points out that recent reductions at Vanderbilt have been blamed on a list of factors that include the indecision on Medicaid.
“But I don’t think we can ignore the fact that for hospitals, the situation is changing,” he told reporters Thursday.
Tennessee is one of only a handful of states that hasn’t officially said yes or no. The governor is trying to get approval for what he calls a “Tennessee Plan.” It would effectively let the state accept federal money for insuring more poor people without having to add any costs to the state budget.
Haslam says he doesn’t expect to come home from D.C. with an agreement in hand. And he says he’ll only take it to the legislature for its approval if he feels it really is different from the straight-ahead expansion.