Tennessee Governor Still Wants Option To Expand Medicaid

Gov. Bill Haslam takes questions from reporters on Thursday. He said Medicaid officials are still planning to travel to the capitol to meet with his administration and talk about expansion in the state. Credit: TN Photo Services

Gov. Bill Haslam takes questions from reporters on Thursday. He said Medicaid officials are still planning to travel to the capitol to meet with his administration and talk about expansion in the state. Credit: TN Photo Services

Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature are both trying to force Governor Bill Haslam off the fence. After more than a year of mulling it over, the governor says he still wants the option to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

Haslam has talked about what he calls a “Tennessee Plan.” Instead of simply taking the federal money to cover hundreds of thousands of the state’s working poor, he wants to find a way to hold down costs in the Medicaid program at the same time.

The governor hasn’t released specifics, frustrating lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Members of his own party have renewed a push to forbid the state from expanding Medicaid and otherwise participating in Obamacare. Haslam is asking for continued flexibility.

“I know people think you’re just biding time trying to placate everybody, but we’re really looking for an answer that’s a better plan concerning healthcare for Tennessee. I think to pass a bill like that, that blocks off that option, I think is shortsighted for the state.”

Haslam says the ball is in the White House’s court and that he’s waiting to hear what Medicaid officials will allow.

However, other states – including Arkansas and Iowa – have been able to negotiate hybrid plans.

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