Support, questions come as proposed TennCare changes released

Local In TN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( – Tennesseans will soon get a chance to weigh in on a dramatic healthcare plan that Governor Bill Lee called “a really good proposal.” But he’s getting pushback from a key group that “wonders why no other Governor is lining up to take this money.”

It’s the first draft of a plan that was released Tuesday affecting potentially 1.4 million enrollees in the state’s Medicaid program TennCare.

A bill passed this past legislative session directed the Governor to come up with a plan for what’s called a TennCare block grant waiver.

After a ribbon cutting for a storytelling project at Nashville’s Cheekwood Gardens, Governor Lee spoke about the first draft of the plan, which would get funds for TennCare in one lump sum yearly from the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Currently, the funding is nearly a two-to-one match system of federal dollars to state spending.

The coverage of 1.4 million Tennesseans is at stake along with potential savings for the state budget.

“They could be a small amount or a significant amount and once we determine what that amount is, then that will help us set policy going forward,” said Governor Lee.

Three mid-afternoon times in three parts of the state have been put aside for public input, with locations beginning in Nashville on October 1st, followed by Knoxville October 2nd, and Jackson October 3rd.

The proposal is a first of its kind nationwide.

“We believe we have put together a really good proposal that’s going to be a win for Tennessee and a win for the country if we get an opportunity to lead on this,” added the Governor.

A group advocating for TennCare enrollees doesn’t see it that way.

“What it means for the 1.4 million Tennesseans that are on TennCare is that we are going to have less funds to have their vital health care needs met,” said Michele Johnson, who is executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center. “If it is that great of a deal, I just wonder why no other Governor is lining up to take all this money?”

No doubt there will be a lot of debate and discussion before the final draft of the TennCare block grant waiver is submitted to the federal government by the required deadline of November 20th.

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