Mid-South Lawmaker Wants To Block Medicaid Expansion In Tennessee

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(Memphis) The day after the 108th Tennessee General Assembly is elected in November, a move is underway to prevent the expansion of the state Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act also known to some as ObamaCare..

Republican State Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown and Jeremy Durham of Franklin plan to introduce the legislation, "We can not continue to spend money at this rate. This spending is out of control on the federal level. We have to make sure that we continue to budget within our means in Tennessee. We are going to continue with our current Medicaid program, which is serving Tennessee well."        

The Affordable Care Act required states to expand Medicaid coverage from low-income adults with children to all individuals below 133 percent of the poverty level.

Dr. Scott Morris is founder of the Church Health Center in Memphis, "In Memphis, we are one of the poorest major cities in America. We've got to keep finding a way to find affordable care for everybody."        

The Church Health Center provides quality, affordable healthcare for the low-wage, working uninsured.

"One of the ways you judge America as a great nation is whether we are able to take care of our most vulnerable population and that's what the Church Health Center stands for," Morris said.    

The Church Health Center cares for more than 58,000 patients without relying on government funding. Fees are charged on a sliding scale based on income.

"If this bill were to pass it would mean many people who would be in line to have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act will not be covered. This has nothing to do with the individual mandate. This has to do with the expansion of Medicaid, which would have covered the most lives in Tennessee," Morris said.

Kelsey said taxpayers can't afford a long-term financial burden, especially when there are fewer uninsured people in the state. 

"It turns out right now we(Tennessee) have the lowest number of uninsured people in Tennessee that we've had in the last eight years and that will continue to be the case," Kelsey said.