TN lawmakers to consider proposal to expand Medicaid - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

TN lawmakers to consider proposal to expand Medicaid

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Tennesseans may have more options when it comes to health insurance in a proposal to expand Medicaid, but it comes with a catch.

The Republican-controlled state House and Senate have not been willing to expand Medicaid, and many worry about saddling the state with increased cost when the federal funding starts to decrease.

Now, lawmakers are considering a new Democratic proposal.

"We would say, 'What now?' I mean, you've got thousands of veterans. You've got thousands of women. You've got thousands of employed people who just can't afford to have Medicaid coverage. We think this is a reasonable solution and hopefully on a longer-term basis," said State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

Fitzhugh sponsors the bill that would allow the state to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act only while the federal government foots the bill.

The expansion would stop when the federal portion drops in two and a half years.

Fitzhugh said he does not consider this a last-ditch effort to expand Medicaid, adding the state could find a way to pay its share of the increased cost, but might have to get a little creative.

The governor has his own thoughts going forward, acknowledging it was not easy to pass up the millions in federal dollars this year to expand Medicaid.

He also seemed to suggest he would not like Fitzhugh's plan. The governor worries the state might have to cut people from the rolls after the federal money begins to disappear.

"Believe me, the easiest thing would've been a year ago just to say 'forget it, and we're never gonna work this out,' and just go on about our business. But I don't think it's the right thing to do, number one. And, number two, I do think there's a way to work this out," said Gov. Bill Haslam.

The state continues its conversation with the federal government about what's next for Medicaid expansion.

Lawmakers will discuss Fitzhugh's bill during a subcommittee hearing at the Capitol Wednesday.

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