State to hold meeting on proposed TennCare changes

Changes coming to healthcare program TennCare

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee officials will hold their first public meeting in Shelby County on proposed changes to TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program.

The meeting will be held Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the University of Memphis in the University Center, UC Ballroom A.

Governor Bill Lee wants to change the way TennCare is funded.

Right now, the federal government pays for 65 percent of the program, based on the number of people enrolled.

But Lee's administration is requesting this money be sent through block grant funding.

Under this model, the feds would give the state a lump sum each year.

The state has until Nov. 20 to submit its proposal to the federal government.

If approved, Tennessee would become the first state to get its federal funding for Medicaid through a block grant plan.

Supporters say it'll lower costs and give the state more flexibility in how the money is spent.

Opponents argue it'll reduce access to care and hurt the most vulnerable.

"The governor's proposal is completely untested. It's experimental and it treats Tennesseans as guinea pigs," said Michele Johnson, executive director of Tennessee Justice Center.

At least 27 patient groups have submitted a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expressing opposition to plans like Tennessee's.

Before Tennessee submits its plan to the Trump administration, it must get public feedback.

State Representative Karen Camper says no feedback meetings were scheduled for Shelby County, which is home to about 250,000 TennCare enrollees, until she and other leaders shared their concerns with the governor.

"I asked him to hold a meeting here so that people in Shelby County can have their views, ideas and concerns expressed," said Camper.

Sarah Tanksley, a TennCare spokesperson, says Tuesday's meeting at U of M isn't a question and answer session.

Tanksley said officials will only be there to take down comments from the audience.

TennCare is also taking written public comments on the proposed changes.

Comments may be mailed to Mr. Gabe Roberts, Director, Division of TennCare, 310 Great CircleRoad, Nashville, TN 37243. Comments may also be sent by email to public.notice.tenncare@tn.gov.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved.