Healthcare in Tennessee
The Affordable Care Act, or the ACA (Obamacare), is a U.S. federal statute that was sign into law on March 23, 2010 by President Barrack Obama. This statute represents the most momentous government expansion and comprehensive regulatory revamp of the healthcare system in the United States. Once fully realized, it will have an effect on nearly every aspect of the U.S. healthcare system. The Tennessee healthcare system is not an exception and the state also expect to reap the benefits of this piece of legislation. The purpose of the ACA is to increase the affordability and the penetration of healthcare insurance coverage for the citizens of the United States, thereby reducing the overall expenditure on healthcare services.
The ACA provide several mechanisms, such as tax credits, mandates and subsidies to individuals and employers with the aim of increasing the affordability of healthcare insurance, thus increasing the coverage rate. The Act sets new minimum standards for covering applicants, and provides the same rates notwithstanding gender or any pre-existing conditions. These laws describe an all-inclusive healthcare reform task that, once wholly implemented, will affect nearly every portion of the national and local healthcare systems (Cronin & Aponte, 2012, p. 61). The scope of these changes is informed by the need to scrutinize impacts related to affordability, insurance coverage, and access to affordable healthcare. Although publications of several national projections already exist, a state-specific analysis, and that of the state of Tennessee in particular, is nonetheless important. The effects of the reforms will differ from state to state due to the pre-existing disparities in healthcare insurance coverage, in the demographics and economics, and in the financing and organization of healthcare system. Each of these will affect the anticipated extent of change from the reform plans (Schmidt, 2011, p. 16).
Elected Officials Views on Obamacare
In 2011, Congressional Representative Steve Cohen (Democrat) compared Republican opponents of the ACA to the Nazis during a house debate. Cohen claimed that terming the healthcare legislation to be a takeover of the U.S. healthcare system by the government, as the Republicans were doing, was misleading. He likened the tactics used by Republicans to the “Nazi” style propaganda. In 2009, Tennessee’s acute care hospitals reported about $2.5 billion in uncompensated care. Approximately ninety-one percent of this was for the uninsured. Office based physicians and community clinics in Tennessee reported an additional $559 million and $1.04 billion in uncompensated care, in that order. Therefore, the entire level of uncompensated care in Tennessee in 2009 was roughly $4.1 billion (McDonough & Milbank Memorial Fund, 2011, p. 91). The continued implementation of the Obamacare has seen substantial decrease in uncompensated care and an expansion in health insurance coverage. There seems to be an increase in the bad debts from insured patients, indicating a greater population of individuals with health insurance.
While Representative Cohen may be in support of Obamacare, Governor Bill Haslam is of the opinion that the state should not pursue the expansion of Medicaid program as envisaged under Obamacare. Most of the Republican leaders in Tennessee have supported the healthcare reform law. However, the Tennessee governor has maintained his opposition to the extension of public health insurance to cover more low-income Americans. In its place, Haslam has sought to broaden the coverage to the extended population, using federal funding to purchase private insurance. This option continues to persuade a budding number of Republican leaders. The governor insists he will not move forward with the expansion in anticipation of the federal government approval of his plan. Like Governor Haslam, Senator Lamar Alexander has also stood up against Obamacare. While his opposition to the law has not been explicit, his hostility towards activities related to the implementation of Obamacare has been unrelenting. For instance, he termed the soliciting of funds from healthcare executives to help in the implementation of Obamacare as “absurd.”
Among the individuals who have regretfully ushered the first anniversary of Obamacare is Senator Bob Cocker. Cocker suitably voted against the Affordable Care Act because, as he bluntly states, it failed to consider the colossal costs and imposes huge burdens on the state and national budgets. He believes that no person in Washington is convinced that the healthcare law can work as envisaged, as it is cost prohibitive. According to him, in addition to increasing federal expenditure on medical care at a time of escalating debts, the law puts an enormous unfunded mandate on state authorities, a position that former Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen agrees with. While many might be tempted to support the Obamacare program, it is important to note that implementation of this plan, as designed, is extremely daunting. This is because, as most opponents of the plan believe, it places a huge burden on the state governments. Additionally, the cost of implementing the plan appears to be prohibitive (Gray & Sullivan, 2011, p.49).
The Affordable Care Act is full of complicated assortment of healthcare reforms that affect the state of Tennessee. The new web of administrative rules and regulations is altering conventional relationships, associations, and affiliations between insurers, consumers, and healthcare providers. The confusion surrounding Obamacare has only increased because of the divisive political atmosphere and the pending legal disputes in several states. Therefore, the prospect of real changes to the ACA is vastly dependent on the changing legal and political atmosphere.
Cronin, O., & Aponte, P. (2012). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Select Elements and Entities. New York, NY: Nova Science Pub.
Gray, B. J., & Sullivan, K. C. (2011). Provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). New York, NY: Nova Science Publisher’s, Inc.
McDonough, J. E., & Milbank Memorial Fund. (2011). Inside National Health Reform. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 5
Schmidt, P. L. (2011). Medicare and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publisher’s.
- Bill Haslam: Tennessee’s 49th governor.
- Lamar Alexander: Tennessee Senator, 112th Congress.
- Bob Corker: Tennessee Senator, 112th Congress.
- Steve Cohen: Representative of Tennessee District 9