Alexander to Bradley Countians: I’m Working to Help 162,000 Low-Income Tennesseans Who Receive Zero Help Buying Health Insurance Under Current Law

Posted on July 6, 2017

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today told members of the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland that he is working to help the 162,000 low-income Tennesseans who make less than $12,000 a year and who under current law receive zero help buying insurance, as well as the 350,000 Tennesseans who may not be able to buy insurance in the collapsing Obamacare exchanges unless Congress acts soon.

“My first concern is the 162,000 low-income Tennesseans who currently have no help with their health insurance and the 350,000 Tennesseans who may not be able to buy insurance in the individual market next year,” Alexander said. “We’ve got about 6 percent of insured Tennesseans who buy their insurance through the individual market – which includes about 25,000 Tennesseans in the Greater Chattanooga area who buy their insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. They don’t get it from government, and they don’t get it on the job – they buy it themselves and in what Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak has testified is a collapsing market, with premiums that have gone up 176 percent in four years, very high co-pays and deductibles, and insurance companies pulling out. Unless Congress acts soon, there is a real possibility those 350,000 Tennesseans will not have any insurance options in 2018.”

Alexander continued, “I’m working to ensure that the draft Senate health care bill has enough funding to help those lower income Tennesseans in the individual market be able to buy a reasonable health insurance policy. One way or the other, we are going to have to deal with these two groups of Tennesseans because it is not right to leave either group worrying about whether they are going to be able to have health care coverage next year.”

Earlier this year, Alexander, as chairman of the Senate health committee, held a hearing on the need to stabilize the individual market and invited Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak to discuss specific solutions and a timeline for addressing the problem. Alexander also introduced legislation on March 29 with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to rescue Americans with Affordable Care Act subsidies who have zero options for health insurance on the exchanges for the 2018 plan year. A full summary of the Health Care Options Act of 2017 is available HERE.

At today’s luncheon, Alexander talked with members of the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland about what the current draft Senate health care bill means for Tennesseans:

“To begin with, the draft Senate health care bill makes no change in the law protecting people with pre-existing conditions, no change in Medicare benefits, and increases Medicaid funding— that’s TennCare—at least at the rate of inflation. Let me repeat: it makes no change in the law protecting people with pre-existing conditions, no change in Medicare benefits, and increases funding for Medicaid—that’s TennCare—at the rate of inflation.”

A full list of some of the benefits for Tennesseans in the draft Senate health care bill are available HERE.