Tennessee ranks among the highest states with an opioid addiction problem.
While the Affordable Care Act did not increase the opioid crisis, it is worth considering how treatment could have helped stem the problem.
Since Tennessee chose not to expand Medicaid, many uninsured “coverage gap” individuals may have found other means to control their pain.
Now, our state legislators think installing work requirements to enroll in TennCare or state Medicaid recipients is a good idea. Consider this. Tennessee is the only state in the nation that must use the federal Marketplace system just to enroll anyone in Tenncare. This is because Tennessee does not have the computer software to do this.
Another consideration is the fact that many rural areas were hard hit with unemployment, primarily because there is no place in the area or nearby to work.
Finally, after passing this legislation, how do you deal with the fact that nonworking Tennesseans cannot pass a drug test, because they have an addiction problem? That’s a problem that could have been somewhat contained with the mental health treatment and rehabilitation provisions in the Affordable Care Act.
So, rather than enacting more cumbersome rules for the Tennessee Health Department, it seems a more realistic solution would be to expand Medicaid. It has been proven to be effective in those states that did expand. Our tax dollars reside with the federal government and are available. In fact, we are losing $3.8 million every day in federal health care funding.
In light of all afore mentioned statements, why don’t our members in the General Assembly bring our federal tax dollars back to Tennessee?