Is There a Business-Friendly Alternative to Insure Tennessee?

Date: May 31, 2016

Healthcare taskforce sought NFIB feedback for their pending proposal.

Is There a Business-Friendly Alternative to Insure Tennessee?

Last
month, the healthcare task force created by House Speaker Beth Harwell hit the
road for a statewide tour of meetings. The group is seeking feedback from
healthcare providers, community leaders, and businesses as it formulates a plan
to make TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, more accessible, efficient, and
cost-effective. The plan—3-Star Healthy Project—would be an alternative to
Insure Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to use federal funds to expand
health insurance access to about 280,000 low-income Tennesseans, which failed
in 2015.

Included
among those asked to provide feedback to the task force were numerous NFIB
members.

“NFIB
appreciated being asked to participate at these statewide forums,” said Jim
Brown, NFIB/Tennessee state director. “At least seven NFIB members were part of
these roundtables to offer their perspectives on healthcare reform. So many
small business owners are experiencing tremendous cost increases.”

Sixty-five
percent of NFIB Tennessee members opposed Insure Tennessee because they weren’t
convinced the program would run effectively and that taxpayers would end up
footing the bill for cost overages. Their specific concerns centered around the
need for more federal borrowing, lack of clarity in how the plan will operate,
likely loopholes, and lack of benchmarks.

At
this writing, the task force had not yet hammered out specifics for their plan,
but ideas included encouraging enrollees to take more responsibility for their
health while using healthcare services, use of health savings accounts funded
by enrollees’ premiums to pay for copays, support and training for enrollees
re-entering the workforce, and direct primary care arrangements. Insure
Tennessee may not be completely discarded, but re-evaluated to see if any
portions are workable.

The
task force’s work is expected to be completed in time for a meeting this month
with federal officials from the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
in which the task force and Gov. Haslam will present proposals for pilot
projects that could be implemented through Tennessee.

 “Most
NFIB members agree significant reform is needed to fix the broken Medicaid
program,” Brown said. “Most, however, are still not sold on Insure Tennessee,
as originally proposed, because it had important unanswered questions and
problems.”

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