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TN Governor Unsure About Medicaid Expansion

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Lawmakers in Tennessee are watching Florida closely after the state’s conservative Republican governor went along with a major piece of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Bill Haslam is still on the fence about expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare.

For the first three years, the federal government would pay the entire cost of insuring thousands of new TennCare recipients.

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott said he could not “in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care.” Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says having such a conservative leading the way could provide “cover” to lawmakers. But Governor Haslam would still have to sell an expansion, Ramsey says.

“If you say do you want this money or don’t want this money, the answer will be no. But if you make a convincing case on why this needs to be done, I think there’s a possibility.”

The state legislature does have to sign off on expanding TennCare, and Ramsey says getting approval “won’t be easy.” Governor Haslam says he’ll make a decision before the General Assembly finishes its work for the year, which could be as early as mid-April.

Copyright 2013 Nashville Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wpln.org/.

Blake Farmer is Nashville Public Radio's senior health care reporter. In a partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, Blake covers health in Tennessee and the health care industry in the Nashville area for local and national audiences.
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