by Steven Hale
President Obama's newly vindicated health care law could cost Tennessee $716 million, according to a report from The New York Times.
That number, mined from data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation, is actually quite a bit lower than the price tag Gov. Bill Haslam has been forecasting. Speaking to reporters last week, he said the state estimates it would have to spend $250-$300 million per year if it expands coverage, which would amount to well over $1 billion spent between 2014 and 2019.
According to the Times, the federal government would kick in over $11 billion dollars in that same time frame.
Additionally, Talking Points Memo passes along some data — seen in the map after the jump — this morning, also from the Kaiser Family Foundation, showing that many of the governors playing chicken with the Affordable Care Act are running states with high rates of uninsured citizens. (It's like ra-a-a-i-i-n-n-n on your wedding day, which is not actually ironic, but you get the idea.)
TPM's Brian Beutler breaks down the situation, with the caveat that this data is from 2009-2010 and that rates may have changed somewhat over the last two years:
With a 21 percent uninsured rate, Florida is tied with Nevada and New Mexico for second to last place in the country. But conservative Gov. Rick Scott is vowing to opt out of a Medicaid expansion, almost fully financed by the federal government, now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the feds cannot threaten states with the loss of all their Medicaid funds for refusing to expand the program.
South Carolina and Louisiana aren’t faring much better with 19 and 17 percent uninsurance rates respectively. Their Republican governors, Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal, are also planning not to accept federal funds to expand their Medicaid programs.
Beutler also points out that Wisconsin and Iowa — two states with anti-ACA Republican governors — buck the trend with uninsured rates of nine and 12 percent, respectively.
The Kaiser data shows Tennessee coming in at 28th in health insurance coverage, with a 15 percent uninsured rate.
In the week before the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, Haslam told reporters that while he hoped the high court would strike it down, the state was prepared to implement the law if it remained. After the law was upheld, he issued a statement highlighting the portion of the ruling that said states cannot be forced to expand their Medicaid program (here's SCOTUSblog with an explainer on that bit) and, somewhat controversially, encouraging Tennesseans and Americans to elect GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney so "we can be sure that the entire law will be repealed."
Today, the Tennessee Democratic Party continued their call for Haslam and the state's leading Republicans to "quit playing politics" and get on with implementing the upheld law. They even included a nifty, widgetized form letter for citizens to sign and send to the governor.