Gov. Lee says he’s already talking with federal government about TennCare options

Tennessee

With healthcare cost and access key issues for Tennesseans, Governor Bill Lee said he’s not just looking at TennCare block grants as an answer. 

“If a block grant were such that to tap it and provide more access, more coverage, then we’ll do it,” the governor told reporters Wednesday. “If not, it won’t be a good deal for Tennesseans.” 

Determining “a good deal” is complex and time-consuming, but the governor said he’s already talking options with CMS–the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

“I have actually talked with the folks at CMS to start a dialogue,” added Governor Lee. “It will take months to understand what might be available.”  

The governor has maintained that his “greatest concern is that we address the failure of our system to address rising costs.” 

Right now, the federal government through CMS pays about two-thirds of funding the state’s $12 billion Medicaid program, TennCare, which covers 1.3 million Tennesseans.  

As the governor ponders health care options, the minority Democrats continue to say billions in federal funds are available to expand access and lower cost to TennCare through the Affordable Care Act. 

“I hope he considers it and does it this very session, but I am sure he is cognizant that in his own party– unfortunately are a huge obstacle to positive change,” says House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart.  

Democrats say they have met with Governor Lee urging him to expand Medicaid with the available federal money. 

All this comes as the House committee did not take up the bill directing the Haslam administration to negotiate a TennCare block grant from CMS. 

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