Gov. Bill Haslam says no to TennCare expansion

Authored By James Harrison

Gov. Bill Haslam announced Wednesday that he would not recommend that Tennessee accept federal dollars for expanding TennCare, the state’s medical assistance program for low-income residents. 

The governor’s announcement was met with applause by a joint session of the General Assembly. 

Haslam, one of the few remaining governors to have not offered a decision on whether he would expand his state’s Medicaid program to include those living at 138 percent of the federal poverty rate, said he would have preferred to pursue a “third option,” in which Tennessee could have pursued a private approach using federal funds to add to TennCare rolls, but the idea was not compatible with Washington, D.C., administrators. 

“All we’re asking from Washington is to allow us to use the federal funds to provide coverage on the health exchange in the same way many other Tennesseans will access coverage, regardless of whether or not we expand,” Haslam said during his remarks. 

“I cannot recommend we move forward,” he said. 

TennCare currently provides medical coverage for approximately 1.2 million Tennesseans. An expansion would have made somewhere between 140,000 and 160,000 residents eligible for the program, according to estimates. 

This is a developing story. will have more updates on this story as they become available.