Nashville Hospital CEO Says Medicaid Expansion More Likely After Fall Election

May 9, 2014

Credit Community Health Systems

The Nashville CEO of a prominent hospital chain says Tennessee’s more apt to expand Medicaid after elections this fall.

In a call with investors on Wednesday, Community Health Systems CEO Wayne Smith said there are a number of states where Republicans fear Medicaid expansion could be used as a weapon against them.

Smith says they’re concerned the Tea Party “could knock ‘em off.” He continued: “It will be much more acceptable once you get through this mid-term election.”

Smith, perhaps as no surprise as a health-care executive, has long been a vocal supporter of expanding Medicaid coverage in Tennessee.

When asked at a recent press briefing if Tennessee might still expand, Gov. Bill Haslam said he’s working on it: 

“We know providing additional health care coverage for folks is a positive," he said. "The question is what’s the financial impact on the state?”

About 175,000 low-income Tennesseans are estimated to be eligible for coverage under the expansion. The federal government would bear almost all of the cost.

In April, state lawmakers passed a bill requiring that any Medicaid expansion must first be approved by both Republican-controlled chambers.

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