Lawmakers voted to ask for federal Medicaid block grant funds


Tennessee is on track to become the first state in nation to make a radical change to Medicaid.

The bill passed by the senate could change the way the TennCare is funded. TennCare is the state’s version of Medicaid, which is government funded health insurance for low-income and disabled Americans.

The bill calls on Governor Bill Lee to ask President Trump’s administration for a lump sum block grant, something republicans have argues will give the state more control to better manage the program.

“The goal and the ultimate goal is to serve more people with existing resources,” said State Representative Timothy Hill of Blountville.  “We know how to manage money, if we have the ability to do it the Tennessee way.”

Hill believes leaders in Nashville are better able to respond to specific needs in Tennessee than anyone in Washington.

“We want to make sure that it is efficient and that there is not any waste, fraud and abuse,” he said.

Some are concerned block grants would mean less Medicaid funding and they fear republicans will use the block grant to cut benefits.

“Well I am concerned about funding as will be available through the medicare Medicaid block funding program because there is some opportunity there for health coverage to be limited to some of the most vuLnerable people,” said George Aubrey Lee, King University Associate Professor.

Republicans argue that wont happen. Governor Lee said after the session he would only support a block grant funded program that was negotiated in such a way that it was a good deal for everyone.

Once the governor signs the bill into law, then the state will have to negotiated a deal with the Trump administration, and if that happens the whole deal would face months of review before it takes effect.

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