As Tennessee's legislative sessions gets under way, Gov. Bill Haslam and lawmakers are debating how to implement President Barack Obama's health care law, including the final form of a health insurance exchange and whether the state will expand its Medicaid program. Here are some answers to commonly raised questions about the health law in Tennessee:
Q: How many people are uninsured in Tennessee, and how many of those are projected to get insurance under the exchange?
A: About 982,000 people are uninsured. The state estimates about 300,000 would participate in the exchange, though some estimates put that number as high as 600,000.
Q: How many people in Tennessee are currently served by Medicaid and how many more will be served if your state chooses the Medicaid expansion?
A: As of Dec. 31, TennCare, the state's expanded Medicaid program, covered 1,237,037 people, or 19 percent of the state population. TennCare projects that an additional 145,500 people would be covered in 2014 if the state decides to expand Medicaid. Even if the state declines to expand Medicaid, officials project an influx of people who are eligible for coverage but hadn't previously signed up. About 46,700 people are expected to join TennCare in 2014, at a cost of $56 million.
Q: How is the exchange going to be set up in Tennessee?
A: Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has informed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that Tennessee will not create a state-run health insurance exchange. The state must inform the agency by Feb. 15 whether it will pursue a state-federal partnership or have the federal government be responsible for the whole program.
Q: What are the projected costs of the federal health care law in Tennessee?
A: TennCare projects the cost of the health care law will total $1.4 billion over five years beginning in 2014. Officials say that most of that cost is unavoidable, regardless of the makeup of the state insurance exchange or whether the Medicaid is expanded.
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