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Rep. John Rose Says Health Care Not a Right

TN GOP congressman John Rose for Tennessee says if we make health care a right we’ll turn into Venezuela or Cuba… Doesn’t explain how all other developed nations with universal health care have avoided that fate.

He says universal health coverage would make us “not free” — Sorry Canada, France, England, etc.. y’all aren’t “free” according to Rep. John Rose!

LINK: http://herald-citizen.com/stories/rose-hospital-admins-talk-health-care,36359

VIDEO: BLOCK GRANTS VS. MEDICAID EXPANSION (Floor Debate Highlights)

Tennessee has lost $3.1 Million every single day since refusing to expand medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which amounts to over $7 Billion and counting. 300,000 Tennesseans remain without coverage as a result, including 25,000 veterans.

The state leads the country in rural hospital closures, which even some Republicans say would be helped by expanding Medicaid.

Governor Haslam wanted to expand Medicaid. 37 other states have expanded Medicaid, including in “Red” states like Louisiana, to very positive results.

Instead, Tennessee’s Republicans are trying to have the Federal Government send the funding to the state in the form of a block grant, despite the warnings of many experts, who point out that block grants would cover fewer people, not more, and would do nothing to address the health care inequities in our state or to help with rural hospital closures.

Watch the FLOOR DEBATE HIGHLIGHTS:

The refrain from Republicans like Rep. Andy Holt is that we shouldn’t get “tangled up” with the federal government – which seems to ignore the fact that Tennessee is already tangled up with it plenty – between, the TVA, the V.A., Fort Campbell, Medicare, Social Security, SNAP, Oak Ridge National Lab, K-12 Federal funding, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the list goes on.

In fact, for every $1 Tennessee sends to the Federal Government it receives $1.46 in Federal spending.

This isn’t fiscal responsibility, it’s putting politics ahead of people.

TN Republicans Reject Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions, Rural Hospitals, Seniors in Nursing Homes

House Republicans have rejected four measures that would increase health care security for families enrolled in the state Medicaid program known as TennCare.

The measures, introduced by Democratic members of the House Insurance Committee, would have amended HB1280, a bill that directs the governor to apply for a Medicaid block grant from the federal government.

It would be the first such waiver of its kind in U.S. history. (Click here to learn how a Medicaid block grant could cost Tennessee $1 billion in federal funding by 2027.)

GOP Defeats Four Amendments

Protect coverage for pre-existing conditions: House Amendment 5080, presented by Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, District 60, would ensure that Tennesseans with pre-existing conditions would still receive coverage if the block grant was approved.

Republicans voted it down.

Protect rural hospitals: House Amendment 5004a, presented by Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96, would have ensured rural hospitals received due consideration in negotiations with federal Medicaid officials.

Republicans voted it down.

Expand TennCare coverage to working poor: House Amendment 5165, presented by Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, District 88, would expand negotiations to include TennCare health insurance for working families in Tennessee, whose incomes are below 138 percent of poverty line. Generally speaking, these are the Tennesseans who would gain health coverage through Medicaid expansion—a measure supported by 66 percent of Tennesseans.

Republicans voted it down.

Protect nursing home coverage for elderly Tennesseans: House Amendment 5212, presented by Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67, said his measure would protect Medicaid coverage for elderly Tennesseans who live in nursing homes. More than six out of 10 nursing home residents in Tennessee are Medicaid recipients. The legislation “doesn’t guarantee we’re protecting our elderly,” Hodges said.

Republicans voted it down.

In questioning the bill sponsor, Rep. Jernigan said one of the chief concerns of a Medicaid block grant system is funding unexpected coverage increases if circumstances change, for instance, a surge in eligibility surge during an economic downturn. “Would we have to use state dollars at that point to make it up?” Jernigan said.

The bill sponsor Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3, said, “the concern you’re bringing is a classic concern and a valid concern.” But rather than building guidelines for Tennessee’s negotiators, Hill said, it should be addressed during negotiations.

As of January 2019, there were nearly 32,000 TennCare enrollees in Sullivan County, where Rep. Hill lives. Holler at him HERE.

As a reminder, Block Grants would actually mean cuts to TennCare, don’t do anything about covering uninsured Tennesseans or saving rural hospitals, and are currently illegal and opposed by Children’s hospitals.

Here’s more on WHY. Meanwhile we lose $4 Million every day we don’t expand medicaid.

You can watch the full House Insurance Committee meeting here.

How they voted:
House Insurance Committee, March 5; Voice Vote, Ayes prevail:
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, District 31
Rep. Mark Hall, R-Cleveland, District 24
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, District 94
Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, District 45
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, District 7
Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, District 89
Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, District 36*
Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, District 25*
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, District 26
Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, District 49
Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, District 48
Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14

Voting No:
Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67
Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, District 60
Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, District 88
Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96

Bill Sponsors:
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, District 63
Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, District 7
Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, District 94
Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, District 70
Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14
Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland, District 22
Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, District 75
Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, District 43
Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, District 71
Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, District 73
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport, District 1
Rep. Rush Bricken, R-Tullahoma, District 47
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, District 48
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, District 26
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, District 12
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, District 17
Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, District 74
Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Gray, District 6
Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46
Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, District 2
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, District 81
Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, District 76
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, District 25

VAN HUSS ON HEARTBEAT BILL: “Incest Sometimes OK, Rape Sometimes Woman’s Fault”

Yesterday House Bill 77, the “heartbeat bill”, cleared the Public Health Subcommittee and has been referred to the Health Committee. The Senate version of the bill – SB1236, carried by Sen. Pody – was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

Read more

Dems Meet Gov. Lee To Plead For Medicaid Expansion – Children’s Hospitals Against GOP Block Grant Idea

This week a group of Democratic state representatives met with Governor Lee to implore him to reconsider his stance against expanding Medicaid in Tennessee, as most states already have.

Studies show the states that have expanded Medicaid have seen better health results, economic benefits, and fewer rural hospital closures.

Tennessee is losing $26 Billion over 10 years by not accepting billions in federal Medicaid expansion dollars that would cover hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans, including 30,000 veterans, and as a result currently leads the country in rural hospital closures per capita. The 13th rural Tennessee hospital just announced closure in Celina this week, and Democrats held an emotional press conference in the state capitol about it on Monday.

The group of Democrats calls itself the House Democratic Caucus Medicaid Expansion Task Force. They weren’t sure what kind of impact they had on Governor Lee, but said they’ll continue to try.

The general feeling was that the Williamson County-based governor doesn’t seem to understand how desperate for care some Tennesseans are, many of which don’t have another year or two left to wait for a new plan.

They did however say one thing Lee agreed with was preserving the provision of the Affordable Care Act that guarantees the protection of those with pre-existing conditions from discriminatory insurance company practices, which a Republican lawsuit in Texas seeks to undo.

From Rep. Gloria Johnson:

“We will try to continue the conversation, but it’s going to take the people rising up. The current Block Grant bill the Republicans have only takes current TennCare and turns it into block grants, probably serving fewer people than we even do now.”

The Block Grants proposal is something Tennessee Republicans are starting to push hard, with Senate leader Jack Johnson talking to the Tennessean about it this week.

Medicaid expansion is popular in Tennessee.

Block Granting Medicaid is not popular in America:

President Trump is trying to find a way to provide states like Tennessee with a block grant waiver, since they are currently illegal. Even if the president does manage to push that legislation through, it would instantly trigger lawsuits.

Meanwhile the details of the Tennessee Republicans’ Block Grants plan are “vague”, and nobody seems to be sure how it would solve the problem of covering MORE people who aren’t currently covered.

If anything the opposite would be true. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates recent Republican block grant proposals could cut Medicaid spending by as much as a third over the next decade. The cuts would start small, growing larger over the years.

Rep. Gloria Johnson also had this to say about Block Grants:

“Any waiver will instantly be challenged in court. This is not a good faith solution. This is folks who know they are getting hammered and want to appear as if they are doing something.”

It should also be noted that Children’s Hospitals, which rely heavily on Medicaid, are extremely against Block Grants, which they say would lead to cuts in coverage. Jim Kaufman, vice president of public policy for the Children’s Hospital Association, explained that proposals to simply block grant or shift costs to the states are the wrong way to go:

“Block grants cause cost-shifting that further burdens the financially strapped state budgets.  Instead, children’s hospitals want to improve access to care while reducing costs.”

And as Republican Senator John Chafee said in opposition to Medicaid block grants back in 1996:

“As states are forced to ration finite resources under a block grant, governors and legislators would be forced to choose among three very compelling groups of beneficiaries.

Who are they? Children, the elderly, and the disabled. They are the groups that primarily they would have to choose amongst. Unfortunately, I suspect that children would be the ones that would lose out.”

Just this week House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was heard on a phone call explaining to donors that health care issues like this are the reason Republicans got shellacked in November, and that the pre-existing conditions issue was a particular weakness.

Republicans claim to be the ones protecting the provision, but since they are also suing to undo the provision at the same time nobody seems to be buying it.

Even if you aren’t covered by Medicaid, you probably know someone who would be affected by block granting Medicaid.

To encourage Governor Lee to start listening, holler at him HERE.

VIDEO: “Please Expand Medicaid, Governor Lee. People Are Dying.” – A Cry For Help As Another Rural Hospital Closes

This week we learned Clay County’s Cumberland River Hospital would be shutting its doors, making it the 13th rural Tennessee hospital to shutter since the Republican refusal to expand Medicaid took hold.

The numbers show rural hospital closures are far more common in states that refuse to expand Medicaid. Hospitals in Medicaid expansion states were 84 percent less likely to face hospital closures than their peers in non-expansion states, a new Health Affairs study shows.

As part of a #WeAreCelina Day of Action yesterday, in solidarity with Celina and Clay County, Democratic officials Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Rep. London Lamar, Rep. Mike Stewart, Rep, Gloria Johnson and Rep. Dwayne Thompson held a press conference at the capitol, where they were joined by Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini and cancer survivor/Medicaid recipient Kelly Gregory.

Gregory gave an emotional presentation, and all 5 Democratic reps called on Governor Lee and the Republicans to put politics aside and accept the federal dollars to expand Medicaid as the previous Republican Governor wanted to, pointing out that every year that goes by Tennessee loses billions of dollars – $26 Billion over a decade, in fact – and more people will die unnecessarily as hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans are left without health insurance.

Below is video from the press conference:

OPINION: “That is not infanticide. I know. I went through it.”

This week, before the racist images on his yearbook page came out, Virginia’s Governor Northam’s comments about a proposed late-term abortion bill caused a stir. 

Read more

STATE OF THE STATE: Unhealthy, Impoverished, Underfunded Ed, Low Pay… But Cheap!

Our friends at Think Tennessee have just put out their yearly breakdown of where Tennessee stacks up with the other states on important things like opioid prescriptions (49th), poverty (41st), education funding (45th), Adult diabetes (45th), infant mortality (47th), mental health providers (45th) life expectancy (44th), and much more.

Some people are doing very well in our state, but on the whole the news is really not very good. We’re unhealthy, there’s a lot of poverty, our education is underfunded, and the jobs – although we have them – don’t pay well.

We deeply appreciate that Think Tennessee does this, and have made a video out of what they’ve found. If you enjoy it, feel free to share on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or anywhere else you spend your time.

Channel 5 Puts A Face On TN’s Coverage Gap

Yesterday’s News Channel 5 broadcast contained a powerful segment about the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans stuck in the “coverage gap” thanks to the TN GOP’s refusal to expand medicaid, which has cost our state $6 Billion and counting and helped us lead the country in rural hospital closures per capita. Read more

STUDY: 68,000 Rural Parents & Kids Lose Coverage Under TN GOP Plan

Instead of accepting the billions of dollars we lose each year and simply expanding Medicaid like many other “red” states already have – and they don’t regret it – Tennessee Republicans want permission to impose a work reporting requirement on poor parents and caregivers who get coverage through Medicaid.

What would this mean?

A new study from Georgetown tells us this would mean 68,000 of our most vulnerable families lose coverage, mainly in rural areas, and THEIR KIDS WILL SUFFER THE MOST.

Key Findings

  • In Arkansas 23 percent of affected adults lost their health insurance. If Tennessee has a similar outcome, approximately 68,000 parents will lose their Medicaid coverage.
  • The new rules would predominantly affect Tennessee’s poorest mothers in small towns and rural communities.
  • Even if these parents work more hours, they are unlikely to have an offer of health coverage from their employers.
  • The loss of coverage for parents would affect their children, creating more financial hardship for families and risking children’s access to health care. Tennessee was one of nine states to see a significant increase in children lacking health coverage in 2017.

As yet another rural hospital closes in Clay County, there’s simply no excuse for not expanding Medicaid at this point.