The Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association announced Monday that the Board of Directors and leadership voted to support the Insure Tennessee plan proposed by Governor Bill Haslam.
“Obviously, this is a complex issue of health care coverage and all the details have not been completed,” said Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association leaders in a letter to state legislators. “Many questions remain about the proposal and its impacts on businesses, but we are encouraged that the Governor’s proposal represents thoughtful consideration for moving Tennessee forward. Our organization is committed to working with the Governor and the Legislature on these issues and to solving the important issue of access to healthcare for those caught in the cracks of the uninsured.”
The Tennessee hospitality and tourism industry is the second largest industry in the state, bringing in more than $16.2 billion in direct tourist spending. The industry supports over 280,000 jobs representing $5.7 billion in payroll and pays over $1 billion in federal, state and local taxes.
Under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which began January 2014, the federal government assumes 100 percent of Medicaid expansion costs for the first three years (2014-2016). Federal support would then phase down each year until it reaches 90 percent for 2020 and subsequent years, requiring states to pay the remaining 10 percent.
In March 2013, Haslam said that Tennessee would not expand the traditional Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act and instead intended to pursue its own unique program.
Haslam announced Insure Tennessee in Dec. 2014, a pilot program to provide medical coverage to about 250,000 low-income Tennessean’s, about 25,000 of them Veterans, without adding new state taxes or cost to the state’s budget. Insure Tennessee utilizes the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion money to fund 100 percent of the program’s cost through 2016. Federal funding drops to 90 percent thereafter and the Tennessee Hospital Association agreed to cover the 10 percent funding gap.
Insure Tennessee would offer coverage for individuals earning below 138 percent of the poverty level ($16,100 for an individual and $27,300 for a family of three), including many workers in the hospitality and tourism industry not eligible for healthcare coverage through their employer or in the healthcare marketplace.
Haslam issued a proclamation calling for a special session of the General Assembly starting Feb. 2, 2015 for the legislature to consider a joint resolution authorizing the governor to implement Insure Tennessee.
According to Coalition for a Healthy Tennessee, more than 100 organizations and businesses across the state support the Insure Tennessee plan.
Find your Tennessee Legislators and contact them with questions or to let them know your opinion of Insure Tennessee.