Statement from TN Senator Mark Green, MD on Comprehensive Study Announced by Speaker Harwell

TN Senator Mark Green, MD Calls upon Governor to Move SJR 88 as TennCare Alternative

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 13, 2016) – Following Speaker Harwell’s announcement to launch a comprehensive health care study to identify alternatives to insure the working poor in Tennessee, TN Senator Mark Green, MD encourages immediate movement of SJR 88, the TennCare Opt Out pilot program which will enroll low-income Medicaid-eligible participants into a health savings account pilot which incentivizes positive health behaviors and permits patient control and choice.

“Expanding an already failing system through Obamacare is not an option and only a typical response of government bureaucrats. Healthcare innovation must include the approach that places the paying customer, the patient, in control of their personal healthcare choices and care through incentives,” observed Dr. Mark Green referring to the proposed pilot program.

The pilot program will enroll volunteer participants whose income qualifies them for temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) in a newly-created TennCare flexible savings account initiative. Enrollees would receive an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card funded by premiums paid by TennCare to purchase primary care services and medications on an annual basis. Electronic payment is made immediately to treating physicians which reduces administrative costs and encourages provider participation. Patients in the demonstration program with funds remaining in the health savings account at the year’s end keep those dollars as a reward for their healthier choices that have maintained wellness and their effective budgeting of spending.

“The TennCare Opt Out pilot will align the goals of patients, providers and taxpayers who know the best way to reduce the cost of something is by putting the consumer in charge,” concluded Senator Green, a practicing physician who serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

In previous studies of health savings accounts, patients in an HSA visited the emergency department an average of 178.1 per 1,000 participants versus 220 in the non-HSA control group. Analysis of HSA patients reveal a more informed patient taking more responsibility for their own health. Another study in 2010 found Health Savings Accounts decreased cost by over 12 percent. A 12 percent savings in current TennCare expenses would nearly cover all of the Insure Tennessee population without a single new federal dollar or state dollar spent. The resolution has passed through the senate committees and the senate floor, as well as the TN House Committee on Insurance and Banking and awaits review in the House subcommittee on Finance.

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