Governor heads to D.C. Friday on Medicaid talks - WKRN News 2

Governor heads to D.C. Friday on Medicaid talks

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Governor Bill Haslam is on his way to Washington Friday to check on his "Tennessee Plan" that would provide medical insurance to 175,000 Tennesseans by using Medicaid expansion money from Obamacare.

"I don't think [the talks] will be definitive where I am going to come back tomorrow afternoon with a final answer, but we will be having conversations."

In late March, the governor told lawmakers he would seek a way to use the Medicaid expansion money to help buy medical coverage for uninsured low-income Tennesseans, but to do so would require approval from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) which oversees the funding.

"There are several things we will talk about," said the governor today. "We have said all along we wanted a program where both the user had skin in the game, and then for the provider there was incentive for them to control costs as well."

Skin in the game for users would be some form of co-pay for those 175,000 Tennesseans who would obtain health care coverage, but things like increasing the number of people with the copays requires CMS approval.   

The governor also spoke of some people that the federal government requires to be on Medicaid.

He cited as an example those "classified as medically frail," but Haslam said "we want a very objective measure, instead of a very subjective measure."   

"There are four or five things like that we will be discussing in the morning," he told reporters after his brief appearance a gathering of the U-S Global Leadership Coalition in downtown Nashville.

The governor was reluctant to say there is a timetable for a decision, but adds he wants to be able to bring a plan to state lawmakers for approval that "makes sense" using the Medicaid expansion money health care coverage, while not busting the state budget.

"We had the experience in Tennessee of getting overexpanded with TennCare [the state's Medicaid program] cautioned Haslam remembering the experience of his predecessor.  "And Governor Bredesen had to cut the rolls back. We don't want to get back there."

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