(WJHL) – Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander sent a message this morning wanting to assure Tennesseans the draft of the Senate health care bill ‘makes no change in law protecting people with pre-existing conditions and makes no change in Medicare benefits.’
Alexander says the bill increases Medicaid funding, called TennCare in our state, at the rate of inflation.
The Senator stresses the bill benefits all across the state.
He says he will continue to review the draft.
“I’m going to continue to review this draft. I’m going to see what it costs when the Congressional Budget Office gives its report. Then, I’m going to stay focused on it next week as the bill goes to the Senate floor – where it will be subject to virtually unlimited amendments – and my focus will be on how it affects Tennesseans,” said Alexander.
He released a statement saying the bill includes the following:
- Offers health care coverage to 162,000 Tennesseans who make less than $12,000 a year
- He estimates 350,000 Tennesseans who buy their insurance in the individual market will more likely be able to buy insurance next year
- Repeals the health insurance tax, which he says drives up the cost of premiums.
- Gives the state more flexibility and continues federal cost-sharing, which he says Tennessee’s insurance commissioner said will help bring down the cost of premiums.
- Slows down sky-rocketing premiums, which in Tennessee Alexander says have gone up 176 % over four years.
- Repeals the medical device tax on one of our state’s largest exports.
- Repeals the employer mandate penalty, which he says more employers should be able to offer employees more choices of insurance at a lower-cost—and about 60 percent of us get our insurance on the job.
- Ends the tax on individuals who choose not to buy insurance.
- He says it provides more money for hospitals that serve low-income Tennesseans who don’t have insurance.
- It provides new funding for opioid abuse, and opioid abuse is a rampant epidemic in our state.
- He says it provides new Medicaid funding for mental health to double the number of days of in-patient treatment.”
Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner had this to say about the health care bill:
“This bill would kick millions of people off their insurance, raise healthcare costs for Virginians, especially seniors, and leave states on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars for Medicaid, which provides coverage for some of our most vulnerable citizens – including the elderly, the disabled, and one-third of Virginia’s children. At the same time, it gives the wealthiest Americans a huge tax break.”
“The American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the AARP have all said that Republican plans will reduce access to affordable health insurance, and put people with pre-existing conditions at risk. This is cruel, harmful and short-sighted.”
“Instead of trying to jam this bad bill through Congress on a party-line vote, President Trump and Senate Republicans should work with Democrats to strengthen and improve the Affordable Care Act.”