Health Care

Folks reported ‘flocking’ to first TN hemp dispensary — offering ‘pain relief’ through ‘mother nature’

People are “flocking” to the first hemp dispensary in Tennessee, which recently opened in Murfreesboro, says WTVF TV in a report that seems almost an advertisement for cannabidiol oil (CBD) sales – legalized by the state legislature two years ago with little fanfare and previously peddled on a mostly incidental basis within the state. Such sales led to a big bust in Rutherford County earlier this year, but all charges were dismissed after law enforcement officials realized candy contained CBD derived from hemp, not its illegal cousin plant marijuana, is legal in Tennessee and TBI labs confirmed that was the stuff being sold.

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TennCare moves to implement new TN ‘defund Planned Parenthood’ law

In compliance with a law approved earlier this year by the state legislature, TennCare officials last week applied to the federal government for a waiver that could block clinics that provide abortions from being paid for other health care services, reports the Johnson City Press. An ETSU professor says there may be unintended consequences including more abortions; a legislator disagrees.

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TN whistleblowers credited in $30M settlement of federal fraud complaint against nursing home chain

A nursing home chain with more than two dozen facilities in Tennessee has settled a $230 million Medicare fraud complaint with an agreement to pay a $30 million settlement, reports WPLN. Two women who worked at one of the facilities in Columbia are credited as key whistleblowers and will get $6 million.

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Roe balks at backing Trump administration move to eliminate mandated health insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions

Many Republican congressmen – including at least one member of the Tennessee delegation — are unhappy that the Trump administration has moved to eliminate a provision in the Obamacare law that assures health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, reports Politico.

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TennCare backs off initiative aimed at making doctors more cost conscious

After months of resisting pressure from doctors, Tennessee’s Medicaid program, known as TennCare, is slowing down an initiative meant to make physicians more cost conscious, reports WPLN. The Tennessee Medical Association has complained about the so-called “episodes of care” payment model since its inception, though doctors initially cooperated with state officials in designing the program.

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Needle exchange programs getting underway in TN after recent legislative authorization bills

Health officials say a new needle exchange program in Johnson City will be only the second of its kind in Tennessee and will help limit infections spread by the increasing rate of intravenous drug use in the area, according to the Johnson City Press.

The report comes after the legislature has, without much media attention, moved to authorize more needle exchange programs statewide. The 110th General Assembly approved two bills on the subject – one in 2017 that allows private and nonprofit organizations to run needle exchange programs subject to Department of Health approval, and another this year that lets all local governments do the same, again subject to DOH approval.

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Doctor who advised TN legislature decries ‘overzealous’ raid on home, offices

The Johnson City home of Dr. Tom Reach, an addiction treatment physician who has been involved in developing Tennessee legislation, and the eight recovery centers he operates in Virginia and Tennessee were raided Wednesday by federal agents, reports the Johnson City Press. Reach says the action was an “overzealous” move tied to the “current political environment” —  and noted several local politicians have visited his facilities.

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Legislature mandates that state health insurance cover experimental cancer treatment

An experimental cancer treatment has won a rare endorsement from the Tennessee legislature despite some criticism, reports WPLN. The measure requires insurance coverage of proton therapy, which benefits a Knoxville-based company that is building a treatment center in Franklin.

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Bill requiring some to work for TennCare coverage gets final legislative approval

The Republican-led Tennessee Legislature on Thursday passed a controversial bill aimed at imposing work requirements on people receiving Medicaid benefits through the TennCare system, reports the Associated Press. Gov. Bill Haslam has backed the measure.

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GOP legislators spurned renewed Haslam pitch for Medicaid expansion in private meeting

Gov.  Bill Haslam asked Republican legislative leaders earlier this month if they would reconsider Medicaid expansion legislation, which was rejected when he initially proposed the idea three years ago, reports The Tennessean. House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Randy McNally were open to discussing the idea but others were not and the notion was dropped.

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