Wellmont, Mountain States Health Push for Medicaid Expansion

Kingsport, Tenn.-based Wellmont Health System, Mountain States Health Alliance in Johnson City, Tenn., and the Tennessee Hospital Association have warned of potential hospital service cuts and job losses if the state doesn't expand its Medicaid program, according to a report from The Kingsport Times-News.

Extending Medicaid to more Tennessee residents and reducing the number of uninsured people would reduce hospitals' bad debt and charity care, counteracting reduced Medicare reimbursements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the report.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced in March that he wouldn't expand Medicaid. However, Gov. Haslam is pushing for an alternate plan to use federal funding to purchase private health insurance coverage for uninsured people. The state and the federal government are negotiating over the alternate plan, which HHS must approve.

Gov. Haslam's alternate plan would include incentives to encourage healthier choices and compensate providers based on healthy outcomes, according to the report.

Healthcare providers have also pushed for Medicaid expansion in Virginia for the same reasons, with the Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association presenting it as an economic development opportunity, according to the report. Wellmont and Mountain States also have a presence in Virginia.

Earlier this year, Virginia created a legislative panel with the authority to approve the Medicaid expansion. Policy experts have speculated the panel's decision could hinge on the outcome of the state's gubernatorial election this November.

More Articles on Medicaid Expansion:
Virginia Medicaid Expansion Could Hinge on Election Outcome
Poor Can Get Subsidies Without Medicaid Expansion, Experts Say
Sebelius Open to Unique Texas Insurance Expansion 

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