TennCare

Comptroller finds fault with TennCare paperwork pile

The state Comptroller’s Office says TennCare’s 98-page renewal form is making it harder than necessary for low-income Tennesseans to maintain their subsidized government health coverage, reports WPLN.

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Harwell, Casada reject Democrats’ call for special session

In a perhaps unusual move, House Republican leaders have responded to Thursday’s House Democrats holding a news conference and issuing a press release urging a special legislative session on Medicaid expansion.  (Usually such Democrat doings are ignored.) They spurned the idea.

House Speaker Beth Harwell: “As Speaker of the House, I believe that instead of calling for a wasteful special session to expand a program that is failing, we as State Representatives and Senators should instead call on Congress to return healthcare back to the states without strings attached so we can begin to develop a better, more affordable program for Tennesseans.”

House Majority Leader Glen Casada“As Republican leaders of our state, we want to get rid of the disaster of Obamacare, not support a broken healthcare system that has become a drain on Tennessee families and backed insurance providers into a corner. 

Republicans want real solutions, not political promises that would result in more bureaucracy, higher costs, and drive a bigger wedge between patients and doctors. Obamacare has caused insurance rates to skyrocket to a point where the middle class can no longer afford coverage. 

Medicaid expansion has been an abysmal failure for those states that have participated. Here in Tennessee, we are committed to improving the health and quality of life for all Tennesseans through free market principles that demonstrate real results.

Note: The House Democratic Caucus press release is posted HERE.

Fitzhugh calls for special session on Medicaid expansion

News release from House Democratic Caucus

Nashville—House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh is calling for Gov. Bill Haslam to convene a special session of the legislature in the wake of the Graham-Cassidy bill failing to garner enough votes in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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TennCare director bucks national group, backs Haslam on Obamacare bill

The National Association of Medicaid Directors is criticizing the Graham-Cassidy health care bill that faces a U.S. Senate vote next week, reports Nashville Post. But with Gov. Bill Haslam supporting the proposal as “flat-out good for Tennessee” — Tennessee’s Medicaid director, Wendy Long, stands with her boss rather than the national organization.

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Haslam, Alexander & Corker back latest Obamacare repeal effort

Gov. Bill Haslam is cheering for passage of a new U.S. Senate proposal for repealing Obamacare that he says is “flat out good for Tennessee.” Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker indicate they’ll vote for it, though there’s lots of criticism from doctors, hospitals, veterans and Democrats.

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Report: 9% of Tennesseans have no health insurance

The number of Tennessee residents without health insurance has dropped to just 9 percent, even though the state has rejected Medicaid expansion, reports WPLN. Tennessee was near 15 percent amid the recession and prior to Obamacare’s implementation.

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Haslam, other govs pitch quick health insurance fix

Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday urged Congress to “move quickly to stabilize” the nation’s individual health insurance market and then mount “a serious effort” to curb soaring health care costs as federal lawmakers seek ways to keep the Affordable Care Act from imploding, reports the Times Free Press.

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Haslam ‘working group’ to consider banning long-term opioid prescriptions for some on TennCare

Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s putting together a “working group” to consider changes in state laws and regulations dealing with opioid abuse, including a ban on long-term prescriptions of the powerful and addictive painkillers for many TennCare patients, reports the Times Free Press.

“Should we ever be long-term prescribing opioids in TennCare in a non-cancer situation? That’s a question we’re going to explore,” Haslam said last week. “There’s a lot of things we think we can do. So we’re going to put together a working group there.”

He spoke after returning from a Chattanooga event where U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price sought to highlight the nation’s opioid crisis and the Trump administration’s approach to battling it.

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AMA poll: Most Tennesseans don’t want cuts to Medicaid

The American Medical Association, which opposes both the House-approved version of legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare and the latest proposed version from Senate Republicans, has commissioned a poll that basically says most Tennesseans agree with that position.

The first sentence of a Times Free Press report says that 60 percent of surveyed Tennesseans oppose cuts to TennCare/Medicaid funding, which both versions would do, and otherwise summarizes the findings. An excerpt:

The June 15-19 poll of 500 registered Tennessee voters was among surveys conducted in seven states by the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

…In another finding, 56 percent don’t want senators to pass the House bill as is, with 30 percent wanting “major” changes made and 26 percent saying they didn’t want senators to pass any part of the House bill.

Only 9 percent of voters said they wanted the Senate to pass the House legislation just as it is, while 24 percent wanted to see senators make minor changes before passing it.

Forty-nine percent of the Tennesseans surveyed said they viewed TennCare positively. Another 19 percent were neutral. Only 15 percent held unfavorable views of TennCare.

Voters were evenly divided — 39 percent either way — over whether to keep Medicaid funding at its present level or to increase it. Only 9 percent want to decrease Medicaid funding.

…The poll’s accompanying memo from pollsters said “it is important to note” that a majority of those surveyed — 57 percent — are themselves enrolled or have a family member enrolled in Medicaid, or know someone with Medicaid coverage.

Note: The AMA poll press release is HERE. The affiliated Tennessee Medical Association recently issued a press release opposing the proposed Senate bill, HERE.

TN Hospital Association opposes both House and Senate versions of Obamacare repeal

The Tennessee Hospital Association is opposing pending Republican legislation to replace and repeal Obamacare, reports the Times Free Press. THA President Craig Becker says nine rural hospitals have closed or dramatically curtailed services over the past four years and spending cuts in both the House and Senate versions of the GOP proposals will make things worse.

“I think definitely, you’re going to see more rural hospital closures coming along, particularly as it relates to these Medicaid cuts coming down the pike,” Becker said after Republican Senate leaders unveiled their plan last week.

Becker said the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 fails to “adequately address the health care needs of Tennesseans and THA opposes the legislation.”

The hospital association is talking with the offices of Tennessee’s Republican U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.

“We’ve told them we’re absolutely in opposition to the Senate bill as it is now,” Becker said. “It’s clearly going to do damage to the hospitals here.”

Becker said rural hospitals won’t be the only ones to feel the pain.

The Senate and House bills both would cap federal funding for Medicaid, which covers more than 70 million low- income people nationwide. Some 1.5 million pregnant women, children, disabled and elderly people receive Medicaid through TennCare.

Becker said the proposals “represent real, long-term cuts to Medicaid and present a major threat for the future of health care and hospitals in our state.”

He said planned changes to premium subsidies and dropping the individual coverage mandate would put at risk more than 200,000 Tennesseans who bought insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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