Dean takes aim at Lee over Medicaid expansion

A new ad by Democrat Karl Dean is taking aim at Republican gubernatorial rival Bill Lee over Medicaid expansion.

“I’ve stood next to Bill Lee when he’s been adamantly against expanding medicaid, even though it means more shut down hospitals and higher costs on all of us,” Dean says in the ad.

Dean notes in the spot that Tennessee doesn’t get back the full amount that it pays into the federal Medicaid program.

“I’ll expand Medicaid and bring our tax dollars home,” Dean says.

Here’s the full release from the Dean campaign:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Karl Dean for Governor campaign began airing a new ad today that contrasts Dean’s common-sense support for Medicaid expansion, which Tennesseans’ tax dollars are already paying for in 34 other states, with Republican nominee Bill Lee’s adamant opposition.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states have the option to expand Medicaid and receive additional federal tax dollars to provide health coverage for people with low incomes, patients with pre-existing conditions and people who are aging. Medicaid expansion would help 300,000 Tennessee residents who now must live without affordable health insurance. Veterans and others with a diagnosis of mental illness are among the most vulnerable citizens affected by the state’s decision in 2015 to reject expansion.

The state could bring in $1.4 billion a year, or about $3.8 million a day, but none of those federal dollars will help Tennesseans live healthier lives until the state expands Medicaid. Meanwhile, nearly three dozen other states have already expanded their Medicaid programs with the help of Tennessee taxpayers.

“Imagine burning $3.8 million every day,” Dean says in the ad, which is airing statewide. “Well, Tennessee’s been doing that for years. Right now our tax dollars go to Washington to help other states pay for health care. Your governor should fix problems like this. I’ll expand Medicaid and bring our tax dollars home.”

Without Medicaid expansion, 11 rural hospitals across the state have closed or announced plans to shut down, and the state has lost a key weapon in the fight against the opioid crisis. But Dean’s opponent, Bill Lee, adamantly opposes Medicaid expansion.

“We can fix this,” Dean says in the ad. “It’s just common sense.”

Dean, a former two-term mayor of Nashville, will hold a roundtable discussion Tuesday in McKenzie, Tenn., with citizens concerned about the scheduled closure of McKenzie Regional Hospital later this month. The event will be held at the McKenzie Industrial Board office, 89 Bruce St.

Dean’s television ads continue to support his commitment to keeping his campaign focused on the issues that matter most to Tennesseans. Dean has held five town square events across the state since the Democratic primary. He also has accepted invitations to more than 20 debates and forums during the general election campaign and looks forward to the three debates Lee has agreed to. It is important that Tennesseans have a chance to hear how both candidates plan to address access to affordable, quality healthcare.

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