Insure Tennessee! Let Us Have A Discussion

February 11, 2015

Insure Tennessee! Let Us Have A Discussion


Recently I heard a talk given by Dr. Scott Morris, founder of the Church Health Center. He talked about the Sears Tower planned renovation and it was fascinating. If it comes off successfully, it could lead to great benefits for midtown and for Shelby County.


Before he got into the Sears Tower presentation, he talked about the recently defeated proposal for Insure Tennessee. This is Governor Bill Haslan’s proposal to take federal money from the government to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act to people who do not qualify either for existing Medicaid programs or to buy coverage on an exchange.


Haslam unveiled Insure Tennessee in December after nearly two years of negotiating with the federal government because Insure Tennessee was not a straight expansion of Medicaid. It required a waiver approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services because Haslam opted to craft a state-specific program that modeled many aspects of commercial health insurance using funds from a tax that Tennesseans are already paying under the ACA.


Dr. Morris stated that this was a no brainer as the money was sitting there and there were people who needed the medical services and after all it was our Tennessee tax money and additionally tax money from other states.


I thought about this and I have some thoughts as I am sure you do also.

  • Why do we send money to Washington, have them take their administrative cut (Department of Health and Human Services) borrow or print the rest and then decide who gets what is left and determine the strings attached to that money?
  • How do we know that if we take the money and it is 100% federal tax money for the first 2 years and 90% for the third year, that we can stop the program services after that time if it gets too expensive or is not working? Will the federal government or the Federal courts allow Tennessee to stop the program if Tennessee wants to stop? This is the Federal hook that is attached to so many so called federal benefits such as education, welfare, housing etc.


This example frames the central question of our times. Do we want a large central government that spends more than it takes in and makes all decisions about health, welfare, education, the environment, energy, regulation , the internet and communications or do we want the central government to do it constitutional job of  defense, securing our borders and making treaties and leave the rest to the states?


In my opinion, we should have 50 state laboratories for health, welfare, education and let the states compete with each other to the benefit of their citizens. Don’t get me wrong. I would take the Federal money if I could believe that Tennessee could quit the program at any time without penalties. The problem is I do not trust the DC establishment. Do you?

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