- Tennessee governor Bill Haslam announced Monday morning that he will call a special legislative session to focus on a new voucher-based Medicaid expansion plan for the state. If approved, the 2-year waiver plan could provide coverage for 160,000 Tennesseans.
- Under Haslam's plan, known as the Insure Tennessee plan, residents between 21 and 64 years old would be eligible to choose between the Volunteer Plan and the Healthy Incentives Plan.
- The Voucher Plans would provide vouchers worth slightly less than the average TennCare per-enrollee cost, which could be put towards premiums and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with participation in an employer's health insurance plan. Under the Health Incentives Plan, individuals would receive coverage through an arm of the TennCare program that would introduce accounts similar to Health Reimbursement Accounts to cover a portion of member cost-sharing.
Haslam's plan still has some hurdles to jump through. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said on Thursday that while he thinks Haslam will be able to "sell" the state legislature on an expansion plan, he doubts whether the federal administration will approve any plan that would be acceptable to Tennessee's General Assembly.
Still, this is a big policy change for the state, which has traditionally opposed Medicaid expansion. Haslam is the third Republican governor since the midterm elections to jump the party ship and begin supporting expansion of the program—perhaps because following the passage of the $1.1-trillon spending bill on Saturday, it has become clear that DSH cuts have become a reality.