Tennessee's hospitals are playing out the “what if’s” as lawmakers consider whether to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care overhaul. Their study says 90,000 Tennessee jobs could be lost if the expansion does not occur.
Without expanding who is covered by Medicaid – known as TennCare in Tennessee – hospitals say there could be a “recessionary impact.” Hospitals agreed to cuts that total billions of dollars, believing they would see fewer uninsured. But that assumption is in jeopardy.
State Senator Brian Kelsey is trying to prevent the state from expanding Medicaid.
“Look, my job is not to bail out the special interest hospital lobby. My job is to represent Tennessee taxpayers," said the Germantown Republican.
Kelsey defended his position on a panel discussion with the Tennessee Hospital Association and Medicaid advocate Gordon Bonnyman of the Tennessee Justice Center.
Bonnyman often tangles with hospitals, but he’s taking their side.
“I would be the first to say they have been known to cry wolf. The wolf is at the door now. I say that as an amiable adversary of the hospital association," he said.
Gov. Bill Haslam says he plans to make a decision on Medicaid expansion before the legislature wraps up work for the year in the spring.