ISSUES

HEALTHCARE REFORM

The Beacon Center continues to work with state lawmakers to be incubators of freer market healthcare options for Tennesseans that expand quality and access to patients across the socio-economic spectrum. We saw this in action during the 2016 legislative session, when the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed Direct Primary Care (DPC), paving the way for patients with unaffordable deductibles or those who are uninsured to contract directly with their primary care physicians for an average cost of $30-$50 per month. Lawmakers also passed the most robust reforms to certificate-of-need (CON) laws in the state’s history by repealing over half of these antiquated regulations, ranging from restraints on the number of hospital beds to the number of MRI machines available. In doing so, patients across the Volunteer State will now have greater access to essential services and care, while costs decrease as the ceiling expands to new competition in the healthcare marketplace.

Yet, there is still much work to be done. With new horizons coming at the federal level, here’s how Tennessee’s legislature can continue to be a leader in transforming conversations about coverage into real solutions that deliver care:

Yet, there is still much work to be done. With new horizons coming at the federal level, here’s how Tennessee’s legislature can continue to be a leader in transforming conversations about coverage into real solutions that deliver care:

  • Continue to resist a Medicaid expansion of any kind under the current frameworks, instead embracing the following creative approaches to reforming the system:
    • Request a federal block grant for TennCare and other welfare programs.
    • Until the Affordable Care Act is repealed and/or block grants become available, use the 1115 and 1332 Waiver processes to demand more flexibility and state control over the healthcare marketplace. In designing Tennessee’s waiver application, call for mandatory premiums for Medicaid enrollees, mandate work requirements, redefine income to incorporate other forms of government assistance, introduce health savings accounts (HSA’s) and direct primary care (DPC) as optional benefits, and impose lock-out periods for failure to meet these criteria.
    • Expand telemedicine and charity care to embrace technology and innovation, which are leading the way towards drastically reducing patients costs while increasing patient access—particularly for those who are low-income or living in rural areas.
    • Call for the repeal of the Hospital Assessment Fee (or provider tax) that has been used to artificially spike Medicaid reimbursements from the federal level, allowing hospitals to pass costs along to paying consumers, driving up costs for all Tennesseans.
    • Additionally, repeal device and provider taxes in Tennessee’s code permitted through the Affordable Care Act that further increase costs to patients for accessing care.
    • Demand more control over the health insurance markets so that Tennessee insurers can begin offering more affordable, mandate-light plans that give patients more affordable and customized options that fit their individual needs.

We ask the Tennessee General Assembly to join us in the fight for new opportunities and alternatives for patients suffering from the rising costs and limited access to quality healthcare under Obamacare.

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