Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has presented his proposal for Medicaid expansion, called Insure Tennessee. The plan would make it possible for nearly half a million Tennesseans to purchase health insurance. Here are five reasons why Insure Tennessee is good for our state.
- Here’s who it helps.
The working poor and military veterans are among the more than 400,000 people who could benefit from Insure Tennessee. It also helps preserve health care access for those who live in underserved urban and rural areas.
- We’re already paying for it…
Tennessee taxpayers are already paying the federal general taxes for Medicaid expansion, but the money is going to other states that have already expanded Medicaid. If this continues, the Urban Institute estimates we’ll pay $7.8 billion and lose $22.5 billion in federal Medicaid funds between 2013 and 2022.
- …and we won’t have to pay any more for it.
For the next two years, the federal government will pay the entire cost for Insure Tennessee. After that, as federal funding for the program decreases from 100 to 90 percent, it will be replaced by money from a trust fund Tennessee hospitals have been contributing to for the past decade. After three years, if the federal government changes the plan or cuts funding below 90 percent, the state can end Insure Tennessee.
- It encourages healthy behavior and personal accountability.
Insure Tennessee rewards healthy behaviors, prepares members to transition to private coverage, promotes personal responsibility and incentivizes members for choosing preventive care. It has two options:
- The Volunteer Plan, which would provide health insurance vouchers to help members pay to participate in their employer’s health insurance plan. Members are responsible for costs in excess of the amount of the voucher, which encourages them to manage their health care expenses.
- The Healthy Incentives Plan, which provides coverage through a redesigned component of the TennCare program. All members of this plan will have to pay modest pharmacy copays, and those whose incomes are higher than 100 percent of the poverty level will also have to pay premiums and copays for services. Members will also have Healthy Incentives for Tennesseans accounts and can earn contributions into these accounts by performing healthy behaviors.
- It will improve the health of Tennesseans.
Tennessee is one of the nation’s unhealthiest states. Insure Tennessee can help change that status by:
- Giving members access to primary care physicians, who can provide preventive health care
- Expanding access to vaccines, which benefits entire communities by improving public health
- Reducing the cost of care by encouraging members to manage chronic illnesses during their early stages, decreasing the likelihood that members will need more costly emergency care
Healthier residents can mean healthier economies for Tennessee communities; areas with healthier citizens and better health care facilities make more attractive locations for businesses.
If you support Governor Haslam’s plan, tell your state senator and state representative by visiting insuretn.org and voicing your opinion.