Last week Gov. Bill Haslam admitted the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion would make a big difference for working families and the struggling hospitals in Tennessee.
Even so, immediately thereafter, Haslam said there’ll be no Medicaid expansion, comparing federal health reform to a “clunker,” a run down car, as his reason for not expanding health coverage.
From Memphis Daily News, here’s Haslam:
“It’s all this federal money. It will help hospitals and it will give people better health coverage. All of that is true.”
So what’s Haslam’s reasoning for rejecting healthcare coverage for the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who are in need?
“The flipside is Medicaid already takes up a huge portion of our budget. As we expand that, that will make a bigger issue.”
Haslam says caring for working families is too expensive. Predictable, but what he doesn’t say is that taxpayers and the insured already care for people without insurance — in the most expensive and ineffective way possible — through emergency rooms, increased premiums and higher hospital fees.
Haslam’s second excuse is an insult to anyone who’s lived without health coverage.
“The expansion didn’t provide a way to have better health outcomes. It just increased the number of people we covered.
Some truth to Haslam’s blathering excuses: Health coverage saves lives. And being alive is a better “health outcome” than being dead.
In 2009, the American Journal of Public Health published a study that found 45,000 deaths a year are linked to lacking health coverage. The study says uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than working-age Americans who have insurance.
Health insurance also protects our security and livelihood. As of 2013, medical bills were still the number one cause of bankruptcy in America.
Haslam then said, “I honestly think we can do it better.”
Then do it. Last March, Haslam promised he was working on a plan to expand Medicaid. Nearly a year later, we’re still waiting — to even see the plan.
Working Tennesseans who don’t have insurance through work are counting on the governor to live up to his word. Hospitals and the healthcare workers, too. Just show us that this wasn’t just a political red herring.
Instead Haslam seems content doing nothing and selling his mirage as a healthcare plan while still blaming President Obama and Democrats for even passing Medicaid expansion, the aforementioned “clunker.” More from Haslam:
“So they are saying, ‘Here’s a clunker. Do you want this clunker?”
Yes, people want it. From October through December, 6.3 million Americans signed up for Medicaid health coverage.
Even if Medicaid health insurance were an unpopular “clunker” — it’s not — it’s clear families living without health insurance would rather have a real car from Obama than the empty promise of a great car from Haslam, maybe, someday.