Letter to the Editor: Gresham continues same lame excuse

Gresham continues same lame excuse

Sen. Dolores Gresham justified her “NO” vote against Insure Tennessee by blaming  the 2005 Tenncare cuts.  “People suffered…I don’t intend to go down that road again”.  Gresham is confused.  “Insure Tennessee” is not an expansion of “Medicaid” as we know it.  Insure Tennessee will be paid by the feds at 100 percent through 2016, gradually decreasing to 90 percent by 2020. The Tennessee Hospital Association pays the remaining 10 percent.  Our state would NEVER have to pay one cent toward Insure Tennessee.  What if it goes belly up after two years? During that time a breast cancer victim receiving treatment could go into remission, and prolong her life.  Is that a reason to vote NO? Apparently, Sen. Gresham thinks it is.
Gresham says health care makes up 32 percent of the state budget, and this is unsustainable.  However, the 32 percent figure is deceptive because 65 percent of current Tenncare money is funded by the feds and simply passes through the Tennessee treasury.  Yes, there are more Medicaid families now.   They were found eligible when applying for ACA insurance;  the same application is used for Medicaid.
Imagine two spigots off the Medicaid pipeline –the Disproportionate Share Fund which partially reimbursed hospitals for uncompensated care and Medicaid Expansion which would provide health insurance for the working poor to pay their medical bills. When ACA passed, the DSH spigot was turned off, but the Medicaid expansion spigot was not turned on. A portion of our federal tax dollars have been earmarked for Medicaid only (not education or public safety).  The Supreme Court gave states the option of accepting the Medicaid expansion or not.  Tennessee rejected it, but instead Governor Haslam unveiled Insure Tennessee, a conservative approach that would meet federal guidelines and satisfy the questions raised by the Tennessee Legislature.  Delay in accepting these monies have closed Haywood Park and Methodist Fayette, both in Gresham’s district; other rural hospitals are on life support.  As they close, jobs and medical providers will leave, economic growth gone.  Major businesses don’t relocate to areas with poor access to healthcare.  If Insure Tennessee doesn’t pass, the rejected monies do NOT go toward the federal debt; instead Tennessee dollars are being diverted to smart states who said YES.
      People with health care insurance stay healthier, have fewer sick days.  Doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies compensated for services, would continue to treat EVERYBODY.  Why would Gresham vote NO on this?  
Meryl Rice