Democrat lawmaker hopes governor hears those at TennCare block grant hearings

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Tennessee State Capitol generic_257697

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Will the governor be listening?

Its a question raised in the aftermath of the first statewide hearing about the huge funding change for the state’s Medicaid program TennCare.

Representative John Ray Clemmons was among three Democrat lawmakers at the emotional hearing to gather public input on what’s called the TennCare block grant.

“So the question becomes–is the governor and the State of Tennessee really going to listen?” said Clemmons Wednesday morning.

What Representative Clemmons listened to were comments like those from a nurse who said she volunteers at a rural Tennessee healthcare clinic where patients often have no medical insurance

“These Tennesseans need Medicaid expansion, not a half baked Medicaid block grant experiment,” she told the hearing crowd of about 150-people.

Nary a word of support was heard at the meeting for the Republican-led idea.

Its a proposed new way of funding the state’s Medicaid program aiming to get the billions yearly from the federal government in one lump sum without many of the conditions now attached.

A bill passed earlier this year by legislative Republicans requires their fellow party member Governor Bill Lee to seek the TennCare block grant.

“It’s going to be a big win for Tennessee,” said the governor on Tuesday, “but it’s not perfect, so we want to make it more perfect by getting public comment.”

“If the governor is really going to listen then he needs to react to what he is hearing,” added Rep. Clemmons.

The governor maintains he will be listening “via these meetings and through the online portals.”

While a first draft is out, the governor says his administration will submit its finished proposal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by November 20th.

The Medicaid “block grant” would be the first of its kind in the country. 

Those “online portals” are on the TennCare website that has information for 1-point-4 million Tennesseans on the program.

You can view the full amendment by clicking here.

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