There's a very real possibility that the Tennessee legislature will vote to expand Medicaid this year, though not to cover the working poor. Rather, this expansion is meant to rescue middle-class and upper-income families from financial ruin, as they care for children with severe disabilities.
The TennCare subcommittee in the Tennessee House of Representatives advanced HB 498 (which started as a placeholder bill) after several weeks of testimony and debate.
"What these guys are going through is tough. Every single day, every single night, they're having an issue. I know my kids are," Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, said during the hearings, referencing his granddaughter, Scout, who was born blind and in need of constant attention. "I wish no one ever had to go through this, but I know it happens."
Several families of children with severe disabilities shared their stories with state lawmakers. They included Rosalie Howes, whose son suffered a stroke at birth. Now 8, he sat next to her in a stroller with oxygen tubes in his nose as Howes testified. Even on her husband's salary as a civil engineer, they struggle to pay for care.
"We've worked so hard and we've cut back on so much, and we've really tried to live within our means," she said. "We realized our only option was we needed to separate because with my husband out of the house, my son would qualify for [Medicaid]."
Hear the discussion in its entirety here: