House Republicans yesterday challenged advocates for Medicaid expansion to explain what taxes they would raise or what programs they would cut to pay for it.

Democrats countered by asking Republicans to produce the details of Haslam's so-called "Tennessee Plan" so they could answer.


More in the press release after the break...

Democrats join Republicans in calling for more details on Haslam's Tennessee Plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Democrats are joining with Republican leadership in calling for details on a plan by Governor Haslam to expand Medicaid in Tennessee. On the house floor yesterday and in media interviews, Republican leadership has called on proponents of accepting federal Medicaid expansion funds to explain what taxes they will raise or what programs they will cut in order to fund the five to ten percent share of the cost in coming years.

"As a former Finance Chairman, I completely understand the majority party’s desire to plan ahead for the future," said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. "As soon as Governor Haslam gives a copy of his 'Tennessee plan' to the legislature, we can score that legislation and determine the best possible revenue streams to cover our ten percent share of the cost after 2020."

Governor Haslam announced last year that he was working with the Obama administration on a "Tennessee Plan" to expand Medicaid. The full details of the plan have not been released to the legislature, which is the necessary next step in determining the full fiscal impact on the state going forward.

"I truly hope my Republican colleagues want to stop playing politics and seriously discuss the policy implications of a Medicaid expansion in Tennessee," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. "Whether we do a straight expansion of Medicaid, or adopt a hybrid plan, the fiscal, economic and moral costs of inaction will vastly outweigh the relatively small budget impact in the years going forward. We look forward to seeing the Governor’s plan so we can debate the best way to fund it in future years."

Last year Leader Fitzhugh introduced legislation that would have enabled Governor Haslam's administration to accept an average of $2.5 million a day from the federal government in order to expand Medicaid. To date, nearly $37.5 million in Tennessee tax dollars have left the state because Republicans in the legislature opposed giving the Governor that authority.

The states of Iowa and Arkansas have hybrid plans already approved by the administration. To date, the Governor has not submitted a full plan for approval to either the federal government or the Tennessee General Assembly.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


From the sidebar, Tom Humphrey shares a photo of how it is Fitzhugh continues to push:

Fitzhugh is using a large sign propped on a stand beside the door to his Legislative Plaza office to track and report "days without Medicaid expansion" and also "Tennessee tax dollars lost."

As of the date of the photo, the sign's numbers read "17" and "$42,500,000" respectively.

Mary Wilson's picture

TennCare Expansion and the State's ability to pay for it

Currently this State is losing millions per day in Federal dollars that are going to other states because Haslam and the TEA Legislature REFUSE to accept the $1.3 Billion per year. Some of these heartless lawmakers will not even be in office 3 years from now when the taxes and fees to cover the 10% of the $3.9 billion are due. I guess they think all this money will be stored in a shed somewhere and not used. The way "Tennessee will be able to pay for it", starting in 2017 will be funds generated directly by TennCare Expansion:

1) Over 19,000 NEW jobs will be generated in medical related positions to care for new patients in hospitals, clinics, and physicians' offices. New workers will bring income, taxes, and fees into the State's economy. Also, medical personnel who have been laid off will be called back, thus saving jobs, especially in RURAL areas where hospitals are a major source of employment.
2) Hospitals, instead of cutbacks in jobs and permanent closings, will be able to EXPAND to serve the thousands of new patients they will gain. Ask any rural hospital on the 'to be closed list'. Ask Vanderbilt what jobs are being lost and special services for children are being cut. Ask the TN Hospital Association which hospitals are on this list, in danger of closing.
3)New jobs will be created from construction projects for hospitals and medical facilities, as well as outside sources, like medical equipment suppliers, restaurants, clothing stores, and others that support the medical community.

And today TennCare has begun cutting patients from its rolls, and for NO real reason. I have met patients who have received "you will no longer be covered" letters recently. WHY? According to Haslam: "TennCare is a debt-producing program". If this is true, the resources to cover the 'debt' are out there....millions per DAY. Ask Kentucky how its economy is now BOOMING because of their KYNECT plan.
Meanwhile, without this life-saving coverage, the sickest are dying when their cancer treatments cease, surgeries are cancelled because patients will not have the coverage.
And our lawmakers whine about this "debt"! Don't they owe a debt to those who voted for them? Don't they know ANYONE who struggles with serious illness without insurance to help them pay?? There is NO humane, logical, moral reason why these elected officials would cut off life-saving medical treatment just because they can. None.

traveler's picture

Blame Obamacare.

Reading the TennCare reports over the weekend, Obamacare has jacked up the cost of some programs and outlawed others, both of which have unpleasant practical consequences.

Agreed there's no humane, logical, moral reason why Tennessee's scarce funds should be wasted by being forced through the federal tax system and subjected to votes by Congress, much less HHS. It's wasteful, bureaucratic, and inhumane.

It's a cost, just like your utility bills. Not a profit center. When your utility bills go up, you spend less elsewhere, and people elsewhere in the economy get less, suffer, etc. It's a less-than-zero sum game.

The notion that expanding a poverty program creates prosperity and employment--incredibly, *because of* all the effort needed to support that greater burden of those being newly supported--suggests a basic misunderstanding of basic facts.

traveler's picture

I made no equivalence; merely

I made no equivalence; merely illustrated--with one everyday expense--that expenses are expenses, not profits, not wealth-generators to be chased after. The same applies to paying for Medicaid, but is so emotional for some that they can't see it. If you were unable to generalize the whole from the specific, my regrets.

Medical care for the poor is a cost for society. Not a fountain.

You've posed a series of false-equivalents yourself, which is scarcely a cure for the defect in the actual argument, or the false equivalence you've alleged in mine.

The original suggestion was that taxpayers--federal and local--paying more, to support more people on dependency programs, creates jobs and prosperity.

Is that your position?

traveler's picture

I neither mentioned

I neither mentioned electricity nor equated health; that was your doing.

I said poverty programs are an expense, illustrated with an example, and re-stated it plainly when you missed the point on first inspection.

The point stands.

Getting more people on poverty programs is not a public good as Ms. Wilson suggested, nor an economic boon, nor a wellspring of employment. It's an expense, which the rest of the population must bear.

We all want people to have care. We all want to ensure a safety net, here, for those who truly can't fend for themselves. But this requires an honest discussion of costs and benefits, and a scrupulously careful examination of how to best use limited funds. Insisting that poverty programs are not only free but a positive economic goldmine doesn't help, and wastes everyone's time.

fischbobber's picture

Mike Knapp's thread


According to the source used by Mike Knapp in his thread, your intuition is wrong. It's funny what happens to Republican fairy tales when they are actually studied for truth, don't you think?

Here's a link to that thread as well.


The grand myth about progressive thinking is that it's all about the warm fuzzies and bunnies and kittens and such. Progressive programs work. Unregulated capitalism is not a market based economy. Unregulated capitalism destroys markets and eventually one guy runs the show, and he doesn't get there by acting in the best interest of society as a whole. If America is to survive we must have a society in place that offers opportunity to our children and recognizes the value and worth of all their talents. We need people running the refuse systems as much as we need doctors, arguably, more. They should have a right to a dignified living wage and healthcare and retirement, just the same as the capitalists that are continually trying to drive down their wages.

Mary Wilson's picture

The Governor HAS NO PLAN.

He has allowed the GOP TEAs in Nashville to take over this subject they knows NOTHING about. And they do not want to know the truth. He has totally betrayed the sickest, poorest, low-income workers who have NO MONEY for insurance...and is choosing to let them get sick and die...Rejecting $3.3 BILLION to help Tennesseans go to doctors, be able to PAY for ER visits, medicines, cancer treatments, life-SAVING procedures is inhumane, and as one physician who cares about her patients says, is just plain stupid.
And then we have Senator Lamar and the TEAs in the House from our poor State whining that hospitals needing $80 million to 'save their hospitals from Obamacare'! How many times will $80 million go into $3.3 Billion?
In spite of all this Obama Hatred, we volunteers are enrolling folks, here, where the dumb butt, Koch Brothers owned Legislature would rather have our sickest citizens just DIE.
Ignorance is not just bliss. In this case, it is cruel, immoral and against ALL religious tenants of caring for our brothers and sisters. And yes, Mae Beavers, the PPACA is a Federal LAW that cannot be superseded by these junk bills you waste time with when you could propose a bill to help folks be able to LIVE instead be thrown to the side and die.

Up Goose Creek's picture


I'm not sure where this came from but I have to disagree with this:

Utility companies are fantastically good at providing a product and service that is not a human need in its most simple form.

Sitting here as the temperature drops I will argue that electricity is indeed a human need. If I had to choose between keeping warm and going to the doctor keeping warm would most likely win.

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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

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