TN Governor: I’m Doing A Lot More Than Just Talking When It Comes To Medicaid Expansion

Many hospitals say an expansion of Medicaid is essential to their bottom line. Gov. Haslam says he met several times with the Tennessee Hospital Association and will again in the next couple of weeks. Image: TN Photo Services/Flickr

Many hospitals say an expansion of Medicaid is essential to their bottom line. Gov. Haslam says he met several times with the Tennessee Hospital Association and will again in the next couple of weeks. Image: TN Photo Services/Flickr

Governor Bill Haslam says he’s still trying to put together a plan to expand Medicaid in Tennessee that would satisfy federal officials and pass a Republican dominated state legislature. But time is running out for the state to accept billions to help the working poor buy health insurance by the start of the new year.

Haslam has been talking with Washington for months. But earlier this week, GOP Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said he wouldn’t support an expansion of Medicaid, saying the Governor is “wasting his time” by negotiating with federal officials.

Speaking with reporters today, Haslam acknowledged selling Republican lawmakers on his plan will be tough, but he’s moving ahead.

“I’m not going to take something to them that I don think…two things,” he said. “That I don’t think, personally, is a good deal for Tennessee, and number two I don’t think I have a shot getting approved in the legislature.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on a visit to Memphis last week that she’s yet to see a specific plan from Tennessee.

But Governor Haslam says their ongoing discussions have been very specific, and he’ll soon send to Washington a “framework” for what a Tennessee expansion of Medicaid would look like.