Medicaid expansion leads Chamber's list of legislative priorities

Group also supports workers' comp move out of courts

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has released its 2013 state legislative agenda. Health care, workers compensation and education are among the group's greatest priorities with the controversial "guns in parking lots" bill listed as well.

More specifically, the chamber's agenda includes support for the federally funded expansion of TennCare/Medicaid, moving workers’ compensation out of the courts, business impact statements for proposed legislation and comprehensive federal immigration reform. The call for "protection of property owners’ right to prohibit guns on their property" will be a difficult agenda item given that the proposal already is making its way through the state legislature and seems to have widespread support.

In the K-12 education arena, the Chamber supports greater accessibility to ACT results, the creation of a statewide charter authorizer solely in the case of successful appeals and the automatic closure of the lowest-performing charter schools.

Chamber officials say their support for Medicaid expansion is based on the ideas that it would bring billions of new federal dollars that are already obligated for health care into Tennessee — helping to create jobs and consumer spending — and that the move will help hospitals better absorb reimbursement cuts and the cost of uncompensated care they provide.

According to the American Academy of Actuaries, expansion would avert a scenario in which a sizeable, riskier group of Tennesseans would have to purchase subsidized private insurance on the exchange, resulting in the likelihood of premium increases for businesses and higher-income enrollees. In addition, some employers will face tax penalties. Reducing the amount of uncompensated care may also mitigate future insurance premium increases.

To view the full 2013 Nashville Area Chamber legislative agenda, click here.