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MEDICAID EXPANSION

First, let's make sure we understand the terms we are working with: Medicare vs. Medicaid. Per the website medicareinteractive.org:


MEDICARE is a federal program that provides health coverage for those 65+ or under 65 with a disability, no matter your income.


MEDICAID is a state and federal program that provides health coverage if you have a very low income.


If you are eligible or both Medicare and Medicaid (dually eligible), you can have both. They will work together to provide you with health coverage and lower your costs.


In Tennessee, we have a program called TennCare. Established in 1994, it's the state's Medicaid program. It was established under a federal waiver that authorized deviations from the standard Medicaid rules. In order to qualify for TennCare, you must be a Tennessee resident and a U.S. citizen or qualified alien. You must also be either pregnant, a child under age 19, a parent or relative caretaker of a dependent child under the age of 21, disabled, elderly, or uninsurable. Generally, your financial situation would be characterized as either low income or very low income.

(Benefits.gov).


Currently, in order to qualify for TennCare, you must have an annual household income (before taxes) that is below the following amounts:


Household Size* Maximum Income Level Per Year

1 $16,971

2 $22,930

3 $28,888

4 $34,846

5 $40,805

6 $46,763

7 $52,722

8 $58,680


*For households with more than eight people, add $5,958 per additional person, per year.


In Tennessee, this means that you have to be more than 138% below the poverty level to qualify, unless you are disabled. If you are 137% below the power level, too bad for you. That's where we need to come up with a plan to bridge the gap between TennCare eligibility and affording private health insurance. In 2014, Gov. Haslam (R), proposed a plan called Insure Tennessee (SJR and HJR 7001). The idea was to bridge the gap. At the time of the proposed ill, it was estimated that 280,000 Tennesseans between the ages of 19-64 were uninsured. The uninsured are generally considered to be the "working poor."


According to a paper written (Arstikaitis, Balding, Harahan, Pirani) and published on Belmont.edu, Tennessee residents have some of the poorest health outcomes in the country. As of 2008, approximately 29% of Tennesseans were obese, and 1/3 of adults were not active at all. Obesity contributes to diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illnesses (Taylor and Cooper, 2008). By 2014, those rates had not decreased and America's Health Rankings (2014), stated that Tennessee ranks as one of the top worst states in both smoking and obesity. Gov. Haslam began working on his Insure Tennessee plan in 2014 to change those statistics. His goals included shifting "health care spending towards paying for value rather than paying for volume," as illuminated in the Insure Tennessee Information Packet (2015).


Sounds great, right? Gov. Haslam had approached this program from a different perspective in order to appeal to lawmakers, but even though the program would result in to extra cost to the state, opponents expressed major concerns about the source of federal funding. Unfortunately, there were groups that did not want the plan to move forward. One of those groups was the Americans for Prosperity. They threw money and lobbyists into fighting Insure Tennessee and they succeeded.


Gov. Haslam's proposed program would allow at risk populations in Tennessee to obtain healthcare, so that poor health outcomes could be prevented and citizens could feel empowered in the options they had in obtaining coverage.


Gov. Haslam's proposed program would allow at risk populations in Tennessee to obtain healthcare, so that poor health outcomes could be prevented and citizens could feel empowered in the options they had in obtaining coverage.


If elected as your Senator, I am willing to reach across the aisle to come up with a plan that provides the positive health outcomes all of our citizens deserve. We have to overcome political biases which ultimately harm out citizens. We deserve good healthcare. We deserve to be a state that leads the way toward affordable healthcare for all. We shouldn't have to choose between groceries or medical care.




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