The Tennessee Senate passed the Stop Obamacare Act, voting 23 to 6 in support of the bill on Thursday. The measure was first introduced by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) last year to prevent Tennessee from expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. The bill states that the governor shall not make any decision or obligate the state of Tennessee in any way with regard to the expansion Medicaid under Obamacare. If it so chooses, the General Assembly may, by joint resolution, authorize the governor to act.
“In 1981 Congress broke its promised Medicaid matching rate to balance the budget, and Congress will have to do it again,” said Senator Kelsey. “That would leave state taxpayers to foot the bill and I am determined not to let that happen.”
“Tennessee Taxpayers simply can’t afford $200 million a year to expand TennCare,” said Senator Kelsey. “The passage of Senate Bill 804 has ensured that Tennessee budgets remain fiscally sound for years to come.”
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. Under the Medicaid expansion envisioned by the Obamacare, Tennessee is estimated to pay $200 million a year for its 10 percent share to expand Medicaid to individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level. The federal government promised to pay 100 percent of the expansion cost for the first three years, diminishing to only 90 percent in future years.
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. So far, 26 states including the District of Columbia are implementing expansion, six are in open debate, and nineteen are not moving forward with expansion at this time.
Senator Kelsey represents Cordova, East Memphis, and Germantown. He is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.