Governor Bill Haslam has been in conversations with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell as recently as this week, going back and forth about a modified expansion of Medicaid in Tennessee. He said Friday morning he plans to either propose a plan or pull the plug in the coming weeks.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Tennessee has the option to use federal money to cover an estimated 160,000 more people, something the Republican-led legislature has largely opposed. Haslam has described the effort for a modified expansion as “threading the needle” between something acceptable to both the General Assembly and the White House.
“Our clock is ticking toward a conclusion point,” Haslam said. “We’re going to decide on this one way or another before Christmas.”
This comes a few days after Vanderbilt University released statewide poll results showing that a majority of Tennessee voters support expanding Medicaid.
Nine other Republican governors have either expanded Medicaid or announced their intentions to do so. Just this week, Wyoming’s governor decided to pursue an expansion.
If Haslam and the White House come to an agreement, Tennessee lawmakers will have to sign off on it. They reconvene in mid-January.