Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) appears to have a change of heart on the possibility of expanding Medicaid in Tennessee. According to reports, the White House’s latest plan to expand subsidized coverage caught McNally’s fancy.
Via the American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden promised that if states expanded their Medicaid programs they’d receive more federal dollars to cover the program. McNally’s spokespersons have indicated that he is open to this option.
Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton wasn’t impressed with Biden’s proposal, however. His spokesperson stated that Biden’s promises would only leave taxpayers “on the hook” with additional costs as federal dollars disappear.
Some of the other drawbacks pointed out were potential payouts of the difference in cost if Tennessee experience population increases, and the potential for the federal government to reduce its allocation at any time.
As The Tennessee Star reported, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Trump administration approved Tennessee’s petition for a modified block grant, which the Tennessee legislature approved quickly. The waiver would allow Tennessee to establish TennCareIII: a self-imposed, fixed budget over the course of a decade.
Biden’s administration holds the power to revoke the waiver. At present, the administration has focused on incentivizing rather than rescinding.
McNally’s spokesperson Adam Kleinheider shared in a statement that no action would be taken until further details were shared with states.
“Before a state can make any decision on how to proceed, more information about what flexibility would be offered and how an expansion would interact with our block grant is needed,” stated Kleinheider. “While Lieutenant Governor McNally remains concerned about the long-term liabilities this expansion would create, he is open to taking another look at it in light of the administration’s proposal.”
In the past, McNally has been consistently skeptical of Medicaid expansions. In 2015, he challenged previous Governor Bill Haslam’s proposal to expand Medicaid. Before that, he hesitated on the 1993 federal government waiver to create TennCare.
– – –