VOL. 130 | NO. 8 | Tuesday, January 13, 2015
County Commission Endorses Haslam's Medicaid Expansion Plan
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Commissioners, including some vocal Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act in general, are calling on the Tennessee Legislature to approve Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee Medicaid expansion plan.
The commission on Monday, Jan. 12, approved the resolution by commissioner Terry Roland 12-0.
Commissioner Heidi Shafer recused herself from voting because of her job as chief marketing officer of the Flinn Clinic, whose patients include TennCare recipients.
TennCare is Tennessee’s version of Medicaid.
Roland said the resolution was a tough political call for him to make as a Republican. But he added that without an expansion of Medicaid in Tennessee, the impact on local hospitals would probably mean the commission would be forced to raise the Shelby County property tax rate.
The resolution Roland authored said Insure Tennessee will provide Tennesseans “the ability to generate real healthcare reform and improve their overall health.”
The resolution also praises the proposal as laying “the foundation for reform by addressing the underlying quality and outcome deficiencies that contribute to growing healthcare costs and unaffordable insurance coverage.”
In other action Monday, the commission again delayed a vote on backing the city of Memphis’application for a Tourism Development Zone for renovation of the Mid-South Fairgrounds.
The commission first delayed a vote last month at the request of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.'s administration as commissioners debated whether or not to attach an amendment that would have conditioned their support for the application to the city settling funding it owes Shelby County Schools under a court-ordered judgment.
The resolution includes an agreement in which the city agrees to make up any sales tax revenue increment captured within the zone that would otherwise go to fund local public schools.
The zone would capture the incremental increase in sales tax revenue at the renovated Fairgrounds as well as a three-mile area around it, and that captured tax revenue would be used to finance the renovation work on the Fairgrounds. The Tennessee Building Commission must approve the creation of such a zone.
The item seeking the commission’s backing could come up again at the body's first meeting in February, with a review in committee sessions the week before that meeting.
The commission voted Monday to approve $2 million in funding to buy three custom fire engine pumpers and a rescue truck from Ferrara Fire Apparatus Inc. for the Shelby County Fire Department.
Commissioners also approved six contracts for various traffic congestion projects totaling $5.5 million in federal Congestion Management and Air Quality, or CMAQ, grants.
The two largest contracts, totaling $2.8 million, are with Gannett Fleming Project Development Corp. for traffic signal upgrades in several locations across the county.
There is also a $286,435 contract with Shelby Electric Co. for a new traffic signal system at Poplar Avenue and International Paper Drive.
And the commission approved a $100,348 grant from the Plough Foundation to the county Community Services division for elder abuse services. The grant will be used to hire two full-time staff to provide those specific services directly, with another part-time position and three on-call employees working under contract with the county.