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Study: Medicaid expansion could cover 150,000 more Tennesseans and save the state millions

A new study on Medicaid expansion argues that Tennessee could give 150,000 more residents health coverage and still end up saving money.

Tennessee is one of only 10 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid for 2024. Without expansion, very few working-age adults qualify. They have to have a disability, be pregnant or have a child. And they have to make very little money. Income cutoffs depend on how many people live in the household, but, for the most part, residents have to make less than $2,000 monthly.

Medicaid expansion is designed to cover people who make too much money for traditional Medicaid but too little to pay for their own insurance. Residents can make up to 133% of the federal poverty level. For one person, that’s nearly $20,000 annually.

The Urban Institute estimates that 150,000 adults in Tennessee would qualify.

For every dollar a state spends on Medicaid expansion, the federal government pitches in $9. The federal match is much lower for non-expansion members. But the Biden Administration has offered a bump on that match for newly expanded states.

Because of these policy changes, and because some of the people TennCare already covers would qualify for expanded Medicaid — bringing in more federal funding — the Urban Institute estimates Tennessee would save $5 million in state funding each year.

Catherine Sweeney is WPLN’s health reporter. Before joining the station, she covered health for Oklahoma’s NPR member stations. That was her first job in public radio. Until then, she wrote about state and local government for newspapers in Oklahoma and Colorado. In her free time, she likes to cycle through hobbies, which include crochet, embroidery, baking, cooking and weightlifting.
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