OPINION……..Mary M. Headrick M.D.
In order to strip skin off the backs of low income workers making less than $15,415/yr. (2012 dollars), Governor Haslam refused to accept $730.7 Million from the feds, $730.7 M to supply TennCare to 144,500 low income Tennesseans in 2014.
Using CBO estimates, a low earner at 100-133% of poverty who puts ‘skin in the game’ purchasing private ‘exchange’ insurance in 2014, will pay 2% of premiums plus copays and deductibles, >$180/yr. The feds will pay 98% of the premium (~$8820 instead of < $6000 for TennCare). TennCare, with a 93% positive approval rating from its enrollees, cost $3183/enrollee/yr. for FY2010 and will cost less than the $6000 U.S. average in 2014.
Expect 3 years of accelerated costs while those newly insured ‘catch up’ in obtaining health care. Mr. Haslam refused $730.7 M for one of those 3 expensive years. Low income families, local governments, hospitals and clinics will be hurt.
Meanwhile, Mr. Haslam leaves a ‘donut hole’. Childless adults ages 19-64 who earn under 100% of poverty get no help. Mr. Haslam’s ‘Tennessee Plan’ is hurtful and expensive.
It costs money to strip skin from the backs of low wage earners.
Mary M. Headrick M.D.
Dr. Headrick has practiced in Emergency Rooms and clinics of East TN. for 30 years.
She was the first Medical Director for Knoxville’s InterFaith Health Clinic to serve the uninsured working poor. She also practiced at the Community Health Clinic in Oak Ridge that sought to divert non-emergency patients from Emergency Rooms to less costly facilities.