To the Editor:
I just went to my first Breakfast with the Legislators, hosted by the League of Women Voters in Oak Ridge.
First, let me thank the League and the four legislators who came, representatives Kent Calfee and John Ragan, and senators Ken Yager and Randy McNally.
I appreciate the thoughtful and varied questions that were asked. I learned a lot from the legislators and the questions.
My particular area of concern was the expansion of Medicaid/TennCare in Tennessee under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Part of my question was not answered, so I did a little research on the Internet. Sen. McNally, the chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means committee, could not tell me how much federal money Tennessee could expect to receive if the state decides to expand Medicaid/TennCare coverage. The answer is about $5 billion over five years. Yes, $5 BILLION coming into Tennessee. That is a big chunk of money that will go to compensate our health care providers, particularly our rural hospitals and our primary care physicians, while bringing many of our working families into the health care system who do not make enough (usually earning minimum wage or less) to purchase private insurance.
We hear a lot about the costs that Medicaid/TennCare expansion cause the state, but it seems there needs to be some more study up in Nashville about the significant benefits that could come our way. $5 billion dollars over five years is quite a boon. Seems it should be part of the discussion.