Online Program

Playing Politics Instead of Making Policy: Tennessee's Refusal to Expand Medicaid is a Political Battle that is Hurting the State

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

The Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) has been at the center of the heated political debate on healthcare in the United States. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in 2012, which held that Medicaid expansion is optional for states, some states have chosen to expand Medicaid under the ACA while others have completely refused. A handful of states have elected to expand Medicaid under a modified plan, which generally uses federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

Tennessee proposed such a modified plan to expand Medicaid (“Insure Tennessee”) that would allegedly provide more coverage for residents while not creating any new taxes. Unfortunately, the proposed bill was quickly defeated in a special committee meeting held on February 4, 2015. This presentation will assert that Tennessee’s failure to pass the Medicaid expansion is a result of political antagonism that leaves many residents uninsured and threatens the foreclosure of some local hospitals.

The presenter will explain the details of Insure Tennessee and the benefits residents and hospitals in the state would have likely received. Moreover, the presenter will contend that the state’s refusal to implement the plan stems more from the state’s political animosity towards the current presidential administration than the uncertainty in the effectiveness of the proposed plan. The political battle between the state and the presidential administration unfortunately comes at the expense of passing valuable and necessary healthcare legislation for the benefit of society.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Identify the pros and cons of the proposed Medicaid expansion plan; Compare the Tennessee's proposed Medicaid expansion plan with plans that have been implemented in other states; Assess why Tennessee's proposed plan was defeated; Discuss what needs to be done for a Medicaid expansion plan to be passed in Tennessee; Analyze whether or not Tennessee should expand Medicaid

Keyword(s): Affordable Care Act, Medicaid

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a licensed attorney in the state of Tennessee. I received my J.D. from the University of Memphis in 2014. I am currently pursuing my LL.M. in International Commercial Law at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. I will complete the program in September 2015 and plan on returning to the U.S. after. I have an interest in health law issues. I presented last year at the 142nd Expo in New Orleans.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.