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.”
“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.
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:
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.
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
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.
- 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.
These families could find affordable health coverage from somewhere like IEHP instead, but if they are amongst the poorest families in Tennessee even this may not be possible. As yet another rural hospital closes in Clay County, there’s simply no excuse for not expanding Medicaid at this point.
As Tennessee continues to reject billions each year, yet another rural hospital shuts its doors, this time in the Clay County/Celina area.
“the closing will cost 146 full & part-time employees their positions”
Not expanding Medicaid for political reasons is an absolute shame. Hope Governor Bill Lee and the state legislature see the light before more unnecessary damage is done.
Read the article from NewsTalk941.com Here.
We need as much exposure asap #CelinaTN. This is #12 or #13 #RuralTN hospital closure, & more soon #TNHD38 @traecrowder @jaketapper @StephenAtHome @RachelMaddowSho @JimmyKimmelLive @LamarAlexander @MarshaBlackburn @RepMikeStewart @BillLeeTN @markpody @kt_keisling @YagerTweets https://t.co/1gTBxNs8eq
— Carol Abney for TN House 38 (@ElectCarolAbney) January 29, 2019
On MLK Day, Governor Lee decided to pay his respects by going to Tennessee State and sharing the stage with Reverend Barber.
Now we’re guessing he probably wishes he hadn’t.
Lee was the first Tennessee Governor to show up at the event in 30 years, and it seems that was no coincidence. Barber made the most of the occasion, making it clear that politicians who claim to love MLK but fight against what he actually stood for will no longer get a free pass on his watch.
Check out the amazingness in a glorious thread here.
Yesterday @RevDrBarber called out Governor @BillLeeTN & anyone who claims to love MLK but fight his agenda and hurt poor people.— Justin Kanew (@Kanew) January 22, 2019
Everyone should see it, so here's a THREAD. I encourage you to WATCH & SHARE them all.
Let's start with Barber calling out Lee to his face. ?? pic.twitter.com/hrtar2PXQX