“We Volunteer as Tribute!” The Hunger Games of Obamcare in TN


June 6, 2016 11:17AM

Recently, Metro Nashville Mayor Megan Berry announced plans to fund (at an undisclosed and perhaps undetermined cost to Nashville taxpayers) a “third party” assessment to examine the fiscal state of affairs at Metro Nashville General Hospital. “The General” is considered the area’s safety net provider for low-income communities predominantly housed in North Nashville.

Earlier this year, General had requested emergency funds totaling an additional $10 million, on top of the $35 million it already receives from the city of Nashville, to help stabilize its revenue stream and sustain rising costs. Yet, General’s CEO Joseph Webb now says those funds have already been spent. The question, which Barry’s “third party assessor” will likely attempt to answer, is whether this heavily subsidized hospital should be privatized, further subsidized, or closed altogether.

Mayor Barry, Metro Nashville councilwoman Erica Gilmore (daughter of state representative Brenda Gilmore), and their cohorts continue to peg the General’s problems on the state legislature’s failure to pass Insure TN, which they believe would have largely addressed the General’s plight of serving an unsustainably high percentage of uninsured patients. But this conclusion is both obstinate and shortsighted.

While Barry and Gilmore claim that Insure TN would have potentially moved 400,000 low-income Tennesseans (or more) onto the government health insurance tab, they fail to acknowledge that many with private insurance or who were previously self-insured are now volunteering as tributes, choosing to forego their individual plans and pay the federal penalty due to the astronomically rising costs of health insurance premiums under Obamacare. And they are doing it by the masses. In fact, the New York Times even reported growing amounts of people enrolling on private plans, running up charges to the insurance carrier, and then jumping ship.

Indeed, the inherently flawed and issue-plagued Affordable Care Act has created a Hunger Games of Obamacare, and no city or state is immune.

So, if the large volume of uninsured patients is General’s problem and the state’s burden to cover under a state Medicaid expansion, then would Mayor Barry and friends propose we cover these new tributes as well? If so, expect to see even more to volunteer as tributes, leading us down the path to bankruptcy. If not, then we’ve simply just replaced one uninsured population with another. And that’s what government problem solving looks like in a nutshell, folks.

We can only hope that House Speaker Beth Harwell’s task force on Medicaid solutions keeps these games in mind as they march closer to announcing their reform proposals.