The Uplifting Story of Marshall Shanks and Benefits of School Choice

The Uplifting Story of Marshall Shanks and Benefits of School Choice

Our new video details the inspiring story Marshall Shanks and the impact educational choice has had on his life. While Marshall’s story is a wonderful example of the benefits of school choice, it’s important to remember that many children won’t have the same opportunity as Marshall until we pass a school choice bill in Tennessee.

January 27th, 2015 | Feature, Tennessee Stories

Attorney General: The Feds Can Change “Insure Tennessee” If They Want

Attorney General: The Feds Can Change “Insure Tennessee” If They Want

A few weeks ago, Senate Finance Chairman Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) requested an Attorney General’s opinion on the legality of Gov. Haslam’s Medicaid expansion proposal. The Attorney General issued his opinion this morning, and it can be found here.

The key components for those uninterested in legalese:

  • While the federal government can’t arbitrarily change the terms of any agreement Tennessee enters into with them relative to Medicaid expansion, in reality they can.

Congress can always change federal law to impose new requirements on the states when it comes to Medicaid enrollees. And even worse, the Obama administration (or any future administration) can unilaterally change its interpretation of the law. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) can also issue regulatory or policy statements that would—perhaps significantly—alter Insure Tennessee.

This is consistent with what we have been telling lawmakers: while you may think you are approving the governor’s expansion plan, you are actually relying heavily on the federal government not to alter those terms in the future. Given the feds’ track record, that proposition makes me squeamish.

  • The state can legally use the hospitals’ provider tax to fund its share of the expansion.

We’ll hear more about that today in the Senate Judiciary hearings, but even if it’s legal, as I wrote yesterday, it’s bad policy and still could leave state taxpayers holding the bag.

  • The state can legally kick people off if the program becomes too expensive or the feds change the terms in a way that is detrimental to the state.

First, this is still a point of contention, evidenced by the fact that the best proof the opinion could offer for this flexibility is a CMS list of frequently asked questions posted in the agency’s website. But even if the FAQ document serves as a legal basis to remove enrollees, any such plan to terminate the program must be approved by CMS, and other states haven’t fared so well in similar attempts.

Second, this also fails to address the political realities of kicking off somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 enrollees. Do lawmakers really want to give that many Tennesseans a free rug only to rip it out from under them? We can do better than that.

In short, the Attorney General’s opinion verifies that this plan is wrong for Tennessee.

-Justin Owen

January 27th, 2015 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

Beacon Center Releases New Anti-Medicaid Expansion Radio Ad

Beacon Center Releases New Anti-Medicaid Expansion Radio Ad

The Beacon Center of Tennessee today launched a radio ad ahead of the legislative debate over a Medicaid expansion. Amid massive spending by expansion proponents—led by the hospitals that will benefit from the expansion—state lawmakers will convene next Monday to vote on Gov. Haslam’s proposed expansion of Medicaid to more than 200,000 able-bodied adults.

The 60-second ad, titled “That’s Just Not Fair,” features a discussion between a senior citizen and her daughter about the proposed Medicaid expansion. It is running on radio stations in the Knoxville media market. You can listen to the full ad below.

 

January 27th, 2015 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News