‘Long hours’ and ‘all hands on deck’ as TennCare faces Medicaid block grant deadline

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The state agency responsible for the health care of one-point four million Tennesseans says its “all hands on deck” to meet a critical deadline.

TennCare must submit its controversial block grant waiver by November 20th to change how it gets money from the federal government for the state’s Medicaid program.

TennCare gets a lot of attention here because it takes up nearly a quarter of the annual state budget.

“We are committed. There will not be eligibility cuts. There won’t be benefit limits put on as a result of this,” said TennCare director Gabe Roberts this week at Governor Bill Lee’s state budget hearings.

They are words the 1.4 million people on Tenncare hope are true.

State lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year directing Governor Bill Lee to seek the TennCare block grant waiver.

“I am very encouraged about the opportunity we have here,” said Governor Lee while adding a note of caution. “Not sure that we will get this waiver, but if we do Tennesseans are going to be grateful for that.”

The block grant waiver is a yearly sum of Medicaid money from the federal government.

It would replace the current 2-to-1 match system of what comes from Washington based on state spending for TennCare.

Statewide public meeting input recently was almost universally against the block grant waiver, but the TennCare director says his agency is going through all the comments as it has a November 20th deadline to submit the waiver.

“We are still on target. It’s a lot of work to go through those comments,” added TennCare Director Roberts. “All hands are on deck right now to go through those comments to meet that deadline. A lot of long hours. We are excited about it.”

If approved, the Medicaid block grant waiver would be the first of its kind in the country.

In the waiver, the state is also asking for half the money it saves the federal government by running the TennCare more efficiently than projected by regulators for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

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