Senior Policy Analyst
Tennessee’s proposal to radically change TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, including by converting its federal financing to an unprecedented block grant, would jeopardize access to care for the 1.4 million Tennesseans that the program covers — particularly for children, low-income parents, and people with disabilities. Many providers, patients, and advocates have submitted comments to the state and to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) opposing the plan.
The state received an overwhelmingly negative response to its prior version of the proposal: of the more than 1,700 comments filed in September and October, just 11 supported the proposal. Now, CMS has received about 6,200 comments during the federal public comment period for its most recent version of the proposal.
National organizations representing health care providers and patients were among those strongly opposed to the proposal:
Moreover, AARP is concerned that the TennCare II Demonstration Waiver may worsen health outcomes, create significant financial hardship for many Tennessee Medicaid beneficiaries in need of coverage, increase administrative costs to the state, and result in increased uncompensated care costs for Tennessee’s health providers.” – AARP
The opposition demonstrates the essential role that Medicaid plays for individuals, providers, and communities. Other states considering similar proposals should instead look for opportunities to strengthen access to Medicaid — such as by adopting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which in Tennessee would cover over 200,000 uninsured people and secure $800 million in federal funding each year.