How The Senate Health Care Plan Could Affect TennCare

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - Could Tennessee children lose health care coverage under Washington's health care plan? Or might state lawmakers prevent that, if given more flexibility for the state's Medicaid program TennCare?

They are just two of the very different ways Tennesseans look at the new health care plan up soon for a vote in D.C.

Every state lawmaker knows they have thousands of people in their districts deeply affected by what is going on in Washington.

“You are going to have to cut either babies or seniors,” say Michele Johnson from the Tennessee Justice Center. That dire prediction comes from an advocacy group for the nearly 1.5 million Tennesseans on the state's Medicaid program TennCare.

Half of Tennessee's children are on TennCare, as are some low-income seniors in care facilities. The Tennessee Justice Center argues the Senate health care plan means $500-million less for TennCare per year.

“They are passing on the cuts and the cost to a state like Tennessee, which is very poor, but they are also passing on the consequences to our state legislators and our governor,” says Johnson.

“We can do what the federal government cannot,” says State House Republican Leader Glen Casada. That political consequence and potential cuts can be handled says Casada.

He argues the state can do better with the covering people with the Medicaid money, if given flexibility from federal rules now governing it.

“I think the U.S. Senate and the President have smartly said how do we delete the redundancy, the bureaucracy, and yet provide a good coverage and the answer is give it back to the states,” says Casada.

Helping figure that out falls first on Tennessee's skeptical Republican Governor.

“If you are going to push down the cost control responsibility to the states, which is what the Senate plan does, you have to give us the flexibility to do that, and so far we are not confident the plan does that,” says Governor Bill Haslam.

 

The Senate health care plan includes a dramatic increase of funding for the opioid crisis. It went from $2-billion in the original Senate bill to $45-billion in the current one.
 


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