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3-Star Health Plan Could Foster Healthier Economy

The 3-Star Health Plan would offer employment services for those battling mental health issues. (clarita/morguefile.com)
The 3-Star Health Plan would offer employment services for those battling mental health issues. (clarita/morguefile.com)
October 20, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee state lawmakers who return to Nashville after the presidential election are expected to take up the issue of the 3-Star Health Plan put together by a task force earlier this year.

In addition to providing health coverage to people in the state currently ineligible for TennCare or those in the coverage gap, the plan also is structured to provide employment services.

Katie Alexander, field director for the Tennessee Justice Center, explains the need.

"Especially for folks who have mental health disability, two-thirds of the people with mental health disability who are not working want to be working,” she states. “But they're having difficulty because they can't get the medications they need. They need help getting trained for a job, finding a job."

A group of conservative lawmakers developed the 3-Star Health Plan after Gov. Bill Haslam's plan did not pass.

Under the proposed structure, the plan would be released in two phases. The first phase would cover military veterans in the state with an honorable discharge and people with a mental health or substance abuse disorder.

If the first phase is successful, the plan would seek to cover the 280,000 in the coverage gap, with the help of federal dollars.

Alexander says support for closing the gap between Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act extends across party lines.

"Over 70 percent of Tennesseans want to see something that closes the gap, so we think that this will be a pretty big issue in the upcoming legislative session," she states.

According to the Tennessee Justice Center, more than half of the Tennesseans who fall in the gap are working – many in the service industry at restaurants, as maintenance workers and students.

It's estimated a plan such as the 3-Star Plan could create approximately 15,000 jobs and prevent layoffs in hospitals across the state.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN