On Friday, The Tennessean published a letter from Don Barnett a Nashville resident and expert observer of the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program critical of Republican Governor Haslam’s plan to expand Medicaid in Tennessee.
New readers of RRW might not know that your state will be “welcoming” more refugees if you are expanding Medicaid.
Last March we reported on an Office of Refugee Resettlement report (Key Indicators for Refugee Placement FY2014) that seeks to identify the best places to resettle refugees. Medicaid expansion is a key indicator that yours is a welfare-rich territory.
There is a second, more recent, Key Indicators report here (a very useful map on page 19 of the newest Key Indicators shows which states have expanded Medicaid and which haven’t as of April 2014).
Here is The Tennessean on the Haslam call for a special session of the legislature. Barnett’s response follows (emphasis is mine):
It is downright strange that a Republican governor would propose expanding Medicaid under a plan worked out with the feds on the basis of a “verbal agreement” while withholding specifics of the plan from legislators expected to decide on its merits.
The last time Tennessee took part in an experiment with Medicaid, the rolls swelled to the point where nearly 1 in 4 Tennesseans were in the program. It took a Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen (2003-11), to put the brakes on the program by reducing benefits and removing more than 170,000 from the rolls.
One sure effect of Medicaid expansion will be to increase the number of refugees that come to Tennessee, a state that already takes more than its fair share of refugees on a per-state basis. The refugee resettlement contractors have publicly stated they will expand resettlement in those states that expand Medicaid coverage.
Tennessee’s main refugee contractor, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and its local affiliate Catholic Charities, was instrumental in stopping a Tennessee bill that would have required resettlement contractors to merely inform the state of the numbers of refugees they place in Medicaid/TennCare.
The last time they released this data — in 2011 — 59 percent of refugees had gone into the program upon arrival for the year. An additional 36 percent of refugees went into a separate taxpayer-funded health program for refugees. When the refugee program started in 1980 the feds promised to cover state Medicaid costs for refugees for three years, but soon withdrew all support — and that promise was in writing.
Why would the General Assembly approve any program before considering all the costs?
Sheesh, and what is going on with these Republican governors? What good is it for Republicans to brag about their larger number of governors when they act like Democrats!
By the way, refugees have huge medical and mental health problems, see our Health Issues category to see what I mean.
See also our extensive archive on Nashville—a preferred resettlement site.