ObamaCare Foes Vow to Reject 30,000 New Jobs for Tennessee



Ever the publicity hog, state Sen. Brian Kelsey is boasting today that he'll introduce legislation — on the day after the election! — to tie Gov. Bill Haslam's hands and block Tennessee from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Tennessean editors have regurgitated Kelsey's press release, essentially as is, without bothering even to do a little Googling to learn what that might cost this state — namely nearly 30,000 new jobs. With lazy news coverage like this, there's no need to wonder why ObamaCare is unpopular in Tennessee.

Assessing the economic impact of the health care law, the University of Memphis found that expanding Medicaid would pump an additional $7.5 billion in federal money into Tennessee's economy in ObamaCare's first five years. In 2014 — the first year alone —the study estimated an extra $454 million in federal spending would create 7,573 new jobs, growing to 29,440 jobs by 2019. And 200,000 uninsured Tennesseans will gain health care coverage at the same time.

And the cost to state government? The feds pay the whole bill for new beneficiaries until 2017 and all but 10 percent in later years — hardly the "mother of all unfunded mandates," as former Gov. Phil Bredesen famously put it when he was inexplicably doing his best to give Tennessee Republicans political cover on this issue.

It's obviously a win-win for Tennessee. Even Kelsey apparently can recognize this because he's already manufactured a response, ridiculous as it may be, to all the reasonable people in this state who will conclude it's stupid not to take this deal: Never mind what the law requires. Congress is lying. he claims, and the feds won't actually wind up paying almost all the cost.

Republicans might not care whether the working poor in this state continue to struggle without health care. But if they'd rather create jobs than demagogue, then they'll vote to expand Medicaid.

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