Letter: Bad Option

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602 S. Gay Street
2nd Floor
Knoxville, TN 37902

In order to strip skin off the backs of low-income workers making less than $15,415 per year (2012 dollars), Gov. Haslam refused to accept $730.7 million from the feds to supply TennCare to 144,500 low-income Tennesseans in 2014. [“The Third Option,” Citybeat by Paige Huntoon, April 4, 2013]

Using CBO estimates, a low earner at 100-133 percent of poverty who puts “skin in the game” purchasing private “exchange” insurance in 2014, will pay 2 percent of premiums plus copays and deductibles, more than $180 per year. The feds will pay 98 percent of the premium (about $8,820 instead of less than $6,000 for TennCare). TennCare, with a 93 percent positive approval rating from its enrollees, cost $3,183 per enrollee per year for FY2010 and will cost less than the $6,000 U.S. average in 2014.

Expect three years of accelerated costs while those newly insured “catch up” in obtaining health care. Mr. Haslam refused $730.7 million for one of those three expensive years. Low-income families, local governments, hospitals, and clinics will be hurt.

Meanwhile, Mr. Haslam leaves a “donut hole.” Childless adults ages 19-64 who earn under 100 percent of poverty get no help. Mr. Haslam’s “Tennessee Plan” is hurtful and expensive.

It costs money to strip skin from the backs of low-wage earners.

Mary M. Headrick M.D.


Ed. Note: Dr. Headrick was the first medical director for Knoxville’s InterFaith Health Clinic, which serves the uninsured working poor.

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