With ever the increasing costs of healthcare, Tennesseans are looking for innovative solutions to increase access, improve outcomes and lower costs. While much focus on healthcare is at the federal level, there are many things that can be done right here in our home state. Beacon 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. One example was when, lawmakers repealed more than half of the state’s certificate-of-need laws. These antiquated regulations, which ban providers from investing in services and locations without their competitor’s approval, range from restraints on the number of hospital beds to the number of MRI machines available to patients. Beacon also continues to fight for new alternative delivery models for healthcare, like when the Tennessee General Assembly overwhelmingly passed direct primary care, allowing patients with unaffordable deductibles or those who are uninsured to contract directly with their primary care for an average cost of $30-$50 per month. 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 and the recent guidelines issued by the Trump administration regarding work requirements, here’s how the legislature can continue to transform 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.
- Until the Affordable Care Act is repealed or block grants become available, use the 1115 and 1332 Waiver processes to demand more flexibility and state control over the healthcare marketplace.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 and direct primary care 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 and reduce existing state-level mandates so that Tennessee insurers can begin offering 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.
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