NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With the health care for at least 1.4 million Tennesseans at stake, some top state officials took to Facebook live for nearly 10 minutes Thursday to talk about the idea of a TennCare block grant.
The complex plan is a work in progress for Republicans who say they want to cover as many people as possible with the block grant proposal that could become the first of its kind in the country.
“Would you speak to our viewers and let them know exactly what we are doing?” asked House Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison of TennCare director Gabe Roberts to begin the program.
The look was not important. The answers were.
“What we are doing is going back to work with CMS and re-imagine how we get federal money into the state to pay for our Medicaid program,” answered Roberts to Rep. Faison’s basic question.
CMS is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Its the federal agency that must approve Tennessee’s request for the block grant of Washington money that would be at least an estimated $8 Billion dollars.
The key part of the Republican idea is that Tennessee can run its Medicaid program TennCare in a way that saves money from what federal estimates thought it would cost.
The first draft of the block grant proposal asks CMS if Tennessee can share in half of the projected savings for the federal government.
East Tennessee Representative Timothy Hill was the third member of the Facebook live event.
“The ultimate goal is to try and take existing resources and serve as many people as you possibly can,” he told those watching.
While championing the idea, Republicans from Governor Bill Lee on down have said if an approved block grant is not a good healthcare plan for TennCare, they won’t do it.
Democrats and advocacy groups for TennCare enrollees have brought up a host of questions about the block grant plan–including whether or not it violates basic law surrounding Medicaid spending.
Opponents will be heard as the state begins an in-person public comment event next week across the state.
Rep. Faison says more lives about the issue are expected on the House Republican Caucus Facebook page.
For more about the TennCare block grant, click here.