TN Bill Requiring TennCare Recipients To Work Hits Snag

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A bill requiring some TennCare recipients to work suddenly hit a snag Thursday.

“This is easily the worst bill we will pass in the legislature this year,” said Rep. Mike Stewart.

Despite ‘no’ votes from Democrats, the work requirement bill for some recipients on the state’s Medicaid program TennCare easily passed the Tennessee House this week, but a floor vote in the Senate was suddenly delayed.

The House Democrat caucus chair claims Republicans are now reading the bill.

“It really means denying health care, really means denying healthcare to young mothers of young children, and that it will cost millions and millions of dollars,” said Rep. Stewart.

A spokesman for the Republican Senate speaker said he had heard “concerns in Washington about the cost and implementation” of such bills nationwide and wanted to cross the t’s and dot the i’s before a vote.

The bill directs the state to seek a waiver on Medicaid rules so that 20-hour weekly work, school, or volunteer requirements would be imposed on TennCare recipients. Those with children under six would be exempt.

“It’s able bodied working age. There’s been a lot of misinformation that maybe this targets single women or caregivers and it does nothing of the sort,” said Sen. Kerry Roberts.

The issue took another turn Friday with harsh words from the Lt. Governor and senator roberts for a TennCare advocacy group. They say “deceptive middle of the night phone calls” about the issue were made by the Tennessee Justice Center. 

The group apologized for the timing of the calls, which it says were mistakenly made a vendor, but stands by its message about the harm of the bill.

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