NASHVILLE, February 3, 2015– The Tennessee General Assembly will be meeting this week to decide whether or not to expand Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion apparatus under the name of “Insure Tennessee”. I would like to commend Governor Haslam for seeking a solution to a very difficult problem. While some valid arguments for expanding Medicaid exist, I am of the opinion that the current proposal does more harm than good.
While some have argued that Insure Tennessee is a “market-based” solution, I do not believe private companies being subsidized with tax-payer dollars and being granted a green-light to suppress wages is policy that Democrats or Republicans should support. By expanding Obamacare through Insure Tennessee, companies will be encouraged to pay their employees less in order to have the State cover their insurance costs. This is quite literally corporate welfare and wage suppression, which will result in a young Tennesseans meeting a brick wall while trying to advance themselves economically.
Nothing is free. It has been said that Insure Tennessee will not be met with additional costs to Tennessee tax-payers. However, that simply isn’t true. Hospitals will be forced to increase fees, which will result in increased healthcare costs, in order to pay their part of Insure Tennessee. Furthermore, whether new and increased taxes originate from the state of Tennessee or Washington D.C. is irrelevant– Tennessee tax-payers are on the hook regardless. Our national debt currently sits at $18 Trillion. I have five children who are currently responsible for that debt. We cannot continue to selfishly spend our children’s futures away with zero accountability.
Hospital associations agreed to cut more than $700 Billion in Medicare funds from the sick and elderly in order to pass Obamacare. Now, they want Tennessee tax payers to bail them out with Insure Tennessee. Chattanooga’s Erlanger Medical Center already received a $19 Million Obamacare bailout. What did they do with the money? While doctors and nurses suffered, executives and management staff gave themselves $1.7 Million in bonuses. In fact, one executive will be collecting $234,669 in bonuses paid for with tax-payer dollars. I have a simple message– No more.
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Some have also argued that Insure Tennessee will create jobs. As a college economics instructor, I know better. Jobs are not created by the government. Taking money from other people and then taxing it a second time around in order to pay the salary of another results in economic loss– not job creation.
Furthermore, the long-term effects of this plan are detrimental for those needing access to affordable healthcare. Medicaid reimbursements are so low that many doctors no longer accept it because it forces them out of business. It is important to realize that Insure Tennessee will force some who have private healthcare into Medicaid. As hospitals and doctors become consumed with new Medicaid patients, their costs will skyrocket. Two things happen: 1.) Those with private insurance have to pay more for healthcare. 2.) Doctors must turn away Medicaid patients in order to remain open due to the fact that they are not being reimbursed enough to keep their practices open. We must understand that having health insurance doesn’t always mean greater access to care. In this case, over time, it will result in less access at a higher cost.
“Pass it to see what is in it.” Sound familiar? The truth is, we still don’t have an actual plan– only a blueprint. We don’t know if Insure Tennessee is what we will actually end up with. As Nancy Pelosi told Congress to pass Obamacare to see what was inside, we are being told to do the same with Insure Tennessee. I will not write a blank check to the federal government based on nothing more than a handshake from President Obama.
I was elected to do everything I can to stop Obamacare, not ensure its future in the State of Tennessee. It is my goal to seek a responsible solution that will increase access to care for Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to find such a sensible solution.