Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and 15 state senate co-sponsors on Thursday filed the TennCare Fiscal Responsibility Act. Senate Bill 804 will prevent expansion of the Tennessee Medicaid program under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” The bill is an updated version of Senate Bill 1, filed by Sen. Kelsey in November.
“I am pleased to have the support so far of 16 of the 33 state Senators in Tennessee, and I hope to have other members sign on as co-sponsors,” said Sen. Kelsey.
Last week, a similar version of the bill, House Bill 82, was filed in the House of Representatives with 22 co-sponsors by Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin).
In June 2012 the United States Supreme Court ruled in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius that states have the right to opt out of Medicaid expansion without losing pre-existing federal Medicaid funding.
“Tennessee Taxpayers simply can’t afford $200 million a year to expand TennCare,” said Sen. Kelsey.
Under the Medicaid expansion envisioned by the Affordable Care Act, Tennessee is estimated to pay $200 million a year for its 10% share to expand Medicaid to individuals with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level. The federal government promised to pay 100% of the expansion cost for the first three years, diminishing to only 90% in future years.
“In 1981 Congress reduced its Medicaid funding match to help cut the federal budget deficit, and with over $16 trillion of debt, I suspect they’ll do it again,” said Sen. Kelsey.
Other states that have opted not to expand their Medicaid programs have also cited their doubt that the federal government will keep its promised level of funding, thus leaving state taxpayers to foot the bill.
The 15 co-sponsors are:
Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma)
Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville)
Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro)
Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville)
Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville)
Sen. Ken Yager (R-Harriman)
Sen. Steve Southerland (R-Morristown)
Sen. Frank Niceley (R- Strawberry Plains)
Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon)
Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga)
Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville)
Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet)
Sen. Jim Summerville (R-Dickson)
Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin)
Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin)