Tenn. Gov Bredesen: Medicaid expansion could cost state millions

The Senate Finance Committee's proposed Medicaid expansion could cost Tennessee up to $735 million over the next five years, Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) projected on Tuesday.

In his letter to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Bredesen also urged the senator and his fellow lawmakers to temper down their proposed changes to the low-income healthcare entitlement -- an expansion Corker later described as an "unfunded mandate" that could overburden states at a time when many are struggling to manage the recession.

"My guess is that most other states would face a similarly painful situation if these costs are passed down," Corker explained in his own statement on Tuesday.

Bredesen, however, has long criticized the Senate Finance Committee's plans to expand Medicaid, but he's hardly alone is his dissent. The proposed changes, which would add at least 11 million Americans to the program's ranks, has troubled a host of governors who struggled this year to keep their respective budgets in check. Many are now actively campaigning against the committee's work.

Fearing a possible political backlash, some federal lawmakers are now chasing exemptions for their cash-strapped states. Others, like Corker, are railing against the Finance Committee's proposed Medicaid expansion.

“Like most Americans, I want to see responsible health care reform but paying for it by sending unfunded mandates to states...," Corker saiid. "It appears to me that nothing is being done to actually lower the costs of health care.”