(NASHVILLE) — Tennessee House Republicans scored a major healthcare victory for patients across the state with the announcement of the State Relief and Empowerment Waiver by the Trump Administration. The waiver will allow Tennessee to search for innovative solutions to address skyrocketing health insurance costs while signaling an opening to address the flaws in TennCare that have decreased access to care.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act by Democrats in 2010, the health insurance market has been faced with escalating insurance costs and premiums which have hurt Tennesseans. Consequences of the Affordable Care Act have led to a major shift in insurance networks and coverage where patients can no longer keep their doctor as promised by President Obama.
House Majority Leader Glen Casada (R-Thompson Station) addressed the announcement by the Trump Administration, saying: “The failures of ObamaCare have driven up costs and put government between the patient and doctor. Tennessee House Republicans have worked for solutions to protect pre-existing conditions, improve healthcare access, and decrease costs without placing taxpayers at risk. This waiver is a testament to that hard work and provides an opening for Tennessee to further implement fiscally sound healthcare policies that drive down costs.”
With the announcement of the State Relief and Empowerment Waiver, Tennessee has finally been given the authorization to implement solutions to drive down healthcare costs and improve access while protecting those with pre-existing conditions. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) signaled they will also be releasing waiver concepts for Medicaid services to provide even more options for individual states to make their own decisions related to healthcare.
House Health Committee Chairman Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) explained, “Allowing the states to have more flexibility in addressing their healthcare issues is a significant step in the right direction. Finding solutions that promote a more transparent and competitive free-market that will empower patients and consumers will lower costs, increase quality, and improve access to valuable innovations like tele-medicine. I am hopeful the Trump Administration will next address the Medicare wage index disparity which is the top issue for our hospitals.”
The waiver outlines five principles for states to follow as they work to develop innovative new approaches to health care. These principles include providing increased access to affordable private market coverage, encouraging sustainable spending growth, fostering state innovation, supporting and empowering those in need, and promoting consumer-driven healthcare.
Representative Bryan Terry, MD (R-Murfreesboro) who serves as chairman of the House Health Subcommittee was very encouraged by the announcement: “While we’ve been working to decrease prescription drug costs, improve access, and protect patients, many common sense and workable solutions have been hindered by the Affordable Care Act or blocked by the federal level bureaucracy. With this waiver, we will have a greater opportunity to address cost and access problems while ensuring taxpayers are, also, protected.”
Tennessee House Republicans, using conservative principles, have worked to stabilize the health insurance market in Tennessee and have pursued solutions to improve consumerism and remove barriers to the patient-physician relationship. The waiver will provide an opportunity not previously afforded the Tennessee General Assembly and House Republicans look forward to working with the new Governor, Senate, and patient advocates to improve health services and access in Tennessee.
“It’s important for voters to understand that the Democrat “solutions” of placing government between patients and their doctors have decreased access while driving up healthcare costs. By voting for and electing conservative Republicans, Tennessee will have the opportunity to empower patients and protect pre-existing conditions while improving health care choices and driving down costs,” concluded Casada.