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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Tennessee asks for block grant approval
Tennessee released its proposal Tuesday for a Medicaid block grant that would be the first in the country. If approved by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services, it would allow Tennessee to keep some of the money saved by operating its program more efficiently. Gov. Bill Lee argues the plan could result in Tennessee saving as much as $1 billion each year. The state says it has been saving money every year with TennCare. Despite those claims, the governor and legislature have declined to accept additional federal funding which could result in 300,000 low income residents receiving health care coverage. TennCare currently covers about 1.4 million Tennesseans. Some health policy experts say the plan may benefit Tennessee,if it is approved it is proposed. Others say the plan jeopardizes the health care of poor families with a risky plan instead of expanding TennCare. Lee said no TennCare recipient will experience a loss or rollback of coverage as a result of block grant funding. The plan calls for the end of coverage for intellectual disabilities, and children in state custody. If Tennessee's proposal is successful, it could serve as a model for some other states, particularly those who are trying to cut back coverage for low income residents. The Tennessee Justice Center and the Tennessee Health Care Campaign both said they are doubtful the plan would improve healthcare for the poor or uninsured. But the Tennessee Hospital Association gave its tentative support, adding it does not know in which direction the Trump Administration will go on the request. Critics of a block grant also point out that Tennessee has already forfeited billions of federal dollars for years by not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

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