NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The voices late today were overwhelming against a huge funding change for the state’s funding for the state’s Medicaid program TennCare.
It was the first time we have heard from those directly affected by what is called the TennCare block grant. proposal.
Earlier in the day, Republican Governor Bill Lee expressed his wishes about the series of statewide hearings on the block grant proposal that requires a heavily negotiated waiver from the federal government.
“We’ll be listening and making sure we actually strengthen our block grant proposal waiver to the federal government, “ he told reporters. “We want people to read about this, understand it, engage in it and we think they will be excited about it. “
But there are others not so excited about the block grant idea that would affect the one-point-four million Tennesseans on TennCare.
“Already we have the highest number of hospital closures per capita in the country. Our health isn’t what it should be and this proposal isn’t going to help, “ said Middle Tennessee Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper earlier in the day before he was the first to address the block grant hearing in Nashville.
He is also worried about Tennessee lawmakers deciding not to expand Medicaid with federal money already available with Obamacare.
“Tennessee has turned down a billion dollars a year to help our hospitals and help our people,” added Cooper.
With Trump Administration support, the governor and fellow Republicans think getting the yearly billions in Medicaid money that comes from the federal government in one lump—the block grant—with fewer strings attached can lead to savings, better care and potentially more lower-income people covered by TennCare.
Those at the hearing overwhelmingly, every single one of them passionately raised issues against the plan.
One was a legally blind woman who said she was on TennCare.
“It scares me to death—the State of Tennessee only kowtowing to rich. They don’t really give a crap about people in this state,” said Cathie Buckner.
Also, a pair of pediatricians raised what they called “serious concerns”—including oversight.
“There is nothing in it that indicates any mechanism for oversight within the state, “ said Dr. Dorothy Sinard who indicated she there on behalf of the Tennessee American Academy of Pediatrics.