Medicaid expansion splits Tennessee governor hopefuls in health forum

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A health care forum showed a partisan split in the governor’s race over Medicaid expansion, with Democrats ranking it their top priority and Republicans opposing it or espousing other priorities.

The Democrats, ex-Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, on Friday called for expansion of Tennessee’s program, TennCare. They cited recent rural hospital closures.

Republicans focused elsewhere, such as personal responsibility, wellness education and private sector innovation.

House Speaker Beth Harwell noted that TennCare had to shrink in 2005 to control costs.

Businessman Bill Lee opposed creating a bigger government program. Ex-Sen. Mae Beavers said states should be able to freely manage federal money.

Businessman Randy Boyd said the state awaits congressional health care action.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black didn’t attend due to votes in Washington.

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