Says Haslam is “Touching the hot stove again”
Growing nervousness in GOP ranks.
In a scathing article, Forbes business magazine has systematically taken apart the governor’s plan to expand Obamacare/Medicaid. Even though he has only a “verbal commitment” and has yet to reveal the details of his plan, the governor has nonetheless called a special session of the legislature for early February to try and ram home the Obamacare expansion that promises to raise taxes (federal and/or state) on Tennesseans.
Forbes pulled no punches: What follows are just some of the most pointed excerpts, but the article should be required reading for every legislator.
Start with the headline: “Insure TN Will Assure More Obamacare In Tennessee.”
It goes downhill from there:
“The truth is, [Haslam’s] new ‘Insure TN’ plan is heavy on buzzwords and light on substance.”
“One thing is clear: like all Obamacare expansions, Haslam’s would be a disaster for Tennessee taxpayers and most vulnerable patients.”
Noting that the governor called a special session with little more than a verbal agreement from the Obama administration, Forbes correctly reported “[Haslam] hasn’t released an actual ‘plan’ at all.”
“Insure Tennessee is Just Re-Branded Obamacare Expansion”
“Marketing gimmicks, no matter how slick they appear on a Power Point slide, cannot change facts. Despite the buzzwords, the plan is, to its core, an Obamacare expansion. It covers the exact same able-bodied, working-age adults Obamacare prioritizes. It is subject to the same cost-sharing limits as traditional Medicaid and utilizes the same existing Medicaid system to deliver the same Medicaid benefits for most enrollees. The plan would operate under a Medicaid waiver, require an amended Medicaid state plan to implement and would be funded through the Medicaid program. Everything Obamacare always wanted.”
Hot stuff. But the Forbes columnists were just getting warmed up:
“Touching The Hot Stove Again”
“A previous Medicaid expansion nearly bankrupted the state after the disastrous TennCare expansion of the 1990s.
Tennessee expanded Medicaid eligibility to a new class of able-bodied childless adults in 1994, just like Haslam wants to do today under Obamacare. In the decade following, the state’s Medicaid costs more than tripled, growing faster than any other state in the region and much faster than revenue. Enrollment soared and expansion costs were well over projections.
By the mid-2000s, Medicaid was devouring nearly 36 percent of the entire state budget. Facing continual budget shortfalls, one governor even proposed creating a state income tax to cover the skyrocketing costs of the program. (The legislature wisely rejected his proposal.)
It took Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen, in 2005, to roll back TennCare expansion and eliminate eligibility for childless adults—which turned into a boon for the state’s economy.
Then Forbes zeros in on the main feature of Haslam’s proposal:
“Gov. Haslam promises that things will be different with his expansion, because federal taxpayers and hospitals are paying for it (more on that in future posts). Empty promises indeed. Tennessee voters know federal money isn’t “free,” and neither is the hospital funding gimmick he’s proposing.”
Forbes went on to reveal that Haslam’s plan would create a “perverse incentive” to place able-bodied recipients on Medicaid which studies have shown encourage them to stay out of the labor force, while “moving children and adults with developmental disabilities … to the back of the line.”
Why GOP legislators are so nervous:
“Medicaid expansion nearly bankrupted Tennessee once before. State lawmakers should make sure Haslam isn’t allowed to do it again.”
More on this in RTP updates later today and this week.