Tennessee is facing a $5.5 million hole in its Medicaid program after Gov.
Bill Haslam signed a $6 billion expansion on Monday, a step toward making Tennessee the fifth state in the country to become a full-fledged full-on full-health insurance marketplace.
The expansion would cover people between the ages of 55 and 64 who are enrolled in private coverage.
That would increase the number of people eligible to purchase private coverage from 790,000 to 2.7 million.
Tennessee would begin expanding coverage in 2019 and cover about 10 percent of the state population by 2021, according to a state Department of Health analysis.
That could make the state one of the most heavily covered in the nation, though the state has struggled to expand coverage.
The increase in the number eligible for Medicaid under the Medicaid expansion has pushed up premiums in the state, which is one of only two states that still requires residents to have employer-provided coverage.
The other two are Louisiana and Alabama.
That means the average annual premium increase in Tennessee was nearly $5,000 per family, according the Tennessee Department of Insurance.
The $5B Medicaid expansion is being driven by a combination of cost increases in the private market, higher premiums, the loss of coverage for those who have already qualified for it and a lack of new enrollees, according a statement from the Tennessee Health Insurance Exchange.
The exchange is running its own survey on how many Tennesseans are eligible for the expansion, and it expects to publish an update on the status of enrollees later this month.
In a press release, Tennessee Health said its enrollment was expected to increase to 5.6 million by 2021 and to 8.5 percent of its population by 2025.
The state’s Medicaid expansion had been projected to bring in $1 billion in state revenues in the first two years.
The health department said it is also investigating whether the state was improperly reimbursing the telehealth providers for services provided to the uninsured.
That’s an issue in several states.
Tennessee is one.
Tennessee also is one that requires all providers to have Medicaid coverage.