NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Recent U.S. Census data shows Tennessee with one of the highest increases in the country last year for those without health insurance, but Governor Bill Lee on Thursday highlighted what he called “a change maker” on the issue.
Those Census figures for 2018 show 675,000 Tennesseans without health insurance, which is tied for third among states as the nation’s biggest increase.
Questions about it came after Governor Lee helped break ground Thursday for a Nashville faith-based medical facility. He thinks facilities like it hold some answers to providing healthcare to Tennessee’s uninsured.
“The access the patients have, to hope, through what Faith Family Medical Center provides, is a change maker,” said the governor at the groundbreaking.
How much of a change maker, how many people faith-based medical facilities can help, remain part of the puzzle for not just Tennessee, but all states across the country.
This comes as minority Democrats on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill remain committed to expanding Medicaid with available federal money from the Affordable Care Act, to help those without health insurance. That remains unlikely in Tennessee, but Governor Lee told reporters Thursday that he’s talking to those who want to expand Medicaid.
“I certainly speak with folks on a regular basis who believe that expansion of Medicaid in its current form is the best answer,” added the governor. “And I want to hear from them and that will affect my approach to policy going forward, but right now I don’t think expanding Medicaid is the right approach.”
This comes as the Lee Administration is finalizing a request for what’s called a TennCare block grant from the federal government, which is aimed at improving the state’s Medicaid program for lower income Tennesseans.
The governor’s administration is also still working on what it calls a “health care modernization task force.”
The group has yet to meet because appointments are still being made.