Officials Expect More People Directed To TennCare - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Officials Expect More People Directed To TennCare

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NewsChannel 5/AP) - While the number of people in Tennessee buying health insurance through new exchanges has been slow, state officials said the number of people being directed to the state's expanded Medicaid program is more than they expected.

The online insurance marketplaces and the Medicaid expansions are part of President Barack Obama's health care law. So far, about 1,000 people have purchased health insurance.

"The numbers we are seeing are tracking slightly higher than what we had projected in our budget," said TennCare Director, Darin Gordon.

Officials had projected that the exchanges would identify nearly 47,000 people who are eligible but not enrolled in TennCare.

Governor Haslam had hoped to keep any increase in Tenncare spending to around $180 million next year, and pointed out that it will already take a big chunk out of new monies expected in the budget. Officials with TennCare pointed out they do have a 315 million dollar cash reserve.

Gordon told Governor Haslam that figure will more likely be about 52,000 for fiscal year 2015.

"It's very important that we have healthy reserves, because this is such a big program and if some of those estimations are off like the impact with the eligible, but not enrolled for example," said Gordon. "That's where having reserves available helps."

The cost of Tenncare in Tennessee has been increasing at nearly half the rate of Medicaid and private insurance across the rest of the country.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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