Bill to expand Medicaid appears dead for the year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A plan by Democrats to expand the Medicaid program in Tennessee appeared dead Wednesday after the sponsor of the measure pulled the bill.

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, told the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee that he was withdrawing his bill. He later said that he would try to revive the bill.

There have been several attempts to expand Medicaid in Tennessee, including one by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who called a special session in 2015 to consider a measure he pushed that would expand the federal-state program for the poor and disabled. But Haslam and others who backed the measure ran into opposition from members of his own party. In Tennessee, the Medicaid program is called TennCare.

A total of 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded their Medicaid programs since 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation said in an email.

A legislative cost analysis said that nearly 294,000 Tennesseans would be newly eligible for health care in the first year if the measure passed. The analysis estimated that the federal government was expected to pay the state $697 million the first year and the state would have to kick in $69 million for the expansion. The state’s cost would increase each year and the federal government would contribute less.