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 One example was when lawmakers repealed more than half of the state’s certificate-of-need laws.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 the government’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. 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  • Until the Affordable Care Act is repealed or block grants become available, use the 1115 and 1332 Waiver processes to demand more flexibility and state control over the healthcare marketplace.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.
  • 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.
  • Expand access to care for Tennesseans, particularly those in rural areas, by allowing pharmacists to conduct low-risk tests and treat low-level diagnoses, like COVID-19, the flu, and strep throat.

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

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