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Friday, November 02, 2018

Dean/Lee on Medicaid expansion
Democrat governor candidate Karl Dean said Thursday he will call the Tennessee General Assembly into special session to vote on Medicaid expansion immediately after he’s sworn in as governor in January to give the critical issue the attention it deserves. "Lawmakers deserve an opportunity to consider and vote on this life-and-death issue,” Dean said. “They didn’t get that opportunity when Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan was rejected by a committee without a full hearing back in 2015, and they haven’t gotten it since. Hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans need affordable healthcare right now. Rural hospitals need help right now. We can’t wait any longer.” The candidate pointed to recent research by the Center for American Progress that found Medicaid expansion would save 684 additional lives a year in Tennessee, including eight infants. Under the Affordable Care Act, states have the option to expand Medicaid and receive additional federal tax dollars to provide health coverage for people with low incomes, patients with pre-existing conditions and people who are aging. Medicaid expansion would help 300,000 Tennessee residents who now must live without affordable health insurance. The move would bring the state $1.4 billion a year, or about $3.8 million a day, joining more than 30 other states. Those funds would free up more state dollars for investments in education, workforce development and other areas. Dean says Medicaid expansion also would give the state another weapon to fight the opioid crisis by bringing in federal dollars to help open new treatment centers and beds. Republican candidate for governor Bill Lee recently said he is opposed to expanding Medicaid. Lee said his plan to address rising health costs could be effective in lowering costs "through the implementation of coordinated care between providers and technology improvements." “Part of the reason uninsured Tennesseans are uninsured is because they can’t afford health insurance," said Lee. "So when we lower the cost of health insurance, that allows for more people to afford it,” referring to the current health care system as “fundamentally flawed.” Dean also issued a statement endorsing the medical use of marijuana. "If the medical community believes marijuana can be an effective tool to help relieve some patients’ pain and suffering, I see no reason for the state to stand in the way of that,” said Dean, “We have an opportunity to help patients overcome their addictions to opioids, and we shouldn’t pass that up.” Dean said he is opposed to recreational marijuana.

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