Friday, November 9, 2012

Speaker Harwell Sees 'Some Justification Financially' to Expand Medicaid

Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 7:01 AM

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House Speaker Beth Harwell suddenly has decided the evil ObamaCare might not cause the apocalypse after all. Before the election, when the tea party champion Judd Matheny was talking about challenging her for the speaker's gavel, Harwell hated the law just as much as any Republican trying to make the president look bad.

Asked at the time whether the state should expand Medicaid under the law, she said: "No, I do not personally think we should expand. … ObamaCare will be devastating for state budgets. It's the wrong way for this nation to go."

Now that the election is over and Matheny has dropped his challenge, she has acknowledged for the first time, as far as we know, that expanding Medicaid might actually hold a few benefits for Tennessee.

"My first-blush reaction is that I'm not in favor of expansion. However, when you look at the numbers there is some justification financially as to why we might want to expand it," she told reporters this week.

Some justification financially? No kidding. A $7 billion federal windfall and the creation of 30,000 jobs in the health care field in this state. Hospitals no longer left holding the bag for uncompensated care. That's some justification financially. This isn't news. It's all in a University of Memphis study that came out months ago. Too bad we had to wait until after the election for the speaker finally to stop ignoring the facts.

Expanding Medicaid in Tennessee also would give coverage to 200,000 working poor people who need health care. They see some justification financially in ObamaCare. They actually could afford to go to the doctor when they are sick. But we don't mention them because Harwell's probably not thinking about them at all. Caring about uninsured people — that's too much to ask.

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