Insure TN to benefit Cannon Co.

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An analysis by the Tennessee Health Care Campaign of Census (THCC) data, Bureau of Labor statistics and two recently released reports indicate that Cannon County would experience direct and measurable benefits from the passing of Insure Tennessee.

Insure Tennessee is a plan by Gov. Bill Haslam to provide health care coverage to 280,000 Tennesseans, including 24,000 veterans, who do not currently have access to health insurance. These Tennesseans fall in the so called "coverage gap" because they do not qualify for TennCare but make too little to obtain coverage through the general insurance marketplace. These individuals are typically hourly wage workers, veterans and working families.

An examination of 2010 Census data (the most recent data available) by THCC shows that 855--or 6.2 percent--Cannon County residents fall in the coverage gap addressed by Insure Tennessee. This group has no health insurance and earns less than 138 percent of the federal poverty line ($16,100 for an individual and $27,300 for a family of three).

"The huge positive affect of ensuring 6.2 percent of a population has new access to health care can't be overstated," said Walter Davis, Executive Director of the THCC. "Not only will they have access to the care they need but it will reduce the risk of personal bankruptcy due to health care expenses at the same time that it brings money and jobs into the local economy."

In addition to making individual lives more secure, Insure Tennessee is expected to have broader positive economic impacts. Currently, 54 Tennessee hospitals, which employ 21,260 people, are at risk of closing. In the Cannon County-area, this includes Heritage Medical Center in nearby Shelbyville and TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville according to a THCC analysis of Joint Annual Report data from the Tennessee Department of Health.

Two recent reports show that states that have expanded coverage in ways similar to Insure Tennessee have reduced that risk of local hospital closings and, in nearly every case, have experienced job growth. Bureau of Labor statistics, examined by Fitch Ratings, show health care and social services jobs grew more than 30 percent faster in states that expanded health care insure than those that did not.

Jobs not related to health care also experience a boost. For example, a report of Kentucky's expansion estimated that it generated 5,400 health care-related jobs and 6,600 non-health care jobs in 2014 alone.

During a special legislative session in February to address the Governor's plan a senate committee voted against passing Insure Tennessee. However, the measure was recently revived in the Senate and is currently moving through the committee process.

Insure Tennessee is an approach to expanding health care insure tailored to the state. It provides two new private market choices for Tennesseans, incentivizes Tennesseans to take more personal responsibility for their health and health care, and prepares participants for eventual transition to commercial health insurance. The program's cost would be covered by the Tennessee Hospital Association and federal funds, not by Tennessee state tax dollars.

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