Lee’s Medicaid block grant proposal deemed ‘illegal’ by House chairman

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at the state Capitol on Sept. 16, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s application for a Medicaid block grant is drawing fire from a power chairman in the U.S. House, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

“This is illegal and the Trump Administration does not have the authority to do this,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) wrote on Twitter.

“I wrote to [Health Secretary Alex] Azar this summer reminding him HHS does not have legal authority to implement a block grant or per capita cap on the Medicaid program,” Pallone said. “While Secretary Azar has yet to respond to me, ignoring oversight letters from Congress doesn’t change the fact that block granting Medicaid is illegal.”

The Tennessee proposal has drawn praise from Republican Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn.

The details of Lee’s block grant application were unveiled this week, launching a 30-comment period before it is submitted to the federal government. Supporters say it can be approved without congressional oversight.

“Gov. Lee has reiterated that point throughout this process and it will be up to [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] to communicate what they are willing to accept during the negotiations,” said Laine Arnold, a spokeswoman for the governor.

14 Responses to Lee’s Medicaid block grant proposal deemed ‘illegal’ by House chairman

  • James White says:

    According to the Constitution The FEDERAL government does not have authority to do anything in providing Medical care to anyone.

    • Leslie Parsley says:

      Only if you’re a greedy, cold hearted, selfish, withered up old fool not fit to live among other members of society.

      • Stuart I. Anderson says:

        What an astounding observation! I had no idea that the constitution was meant to apply “[o]nly if you’re a greedy, cold hearted, selfish, withered up old fool not fit to live among other members of society.”

    • MARLE says:

      We found no authority from the 1700’s to 1965…..then we found that those who were improverished ( by overspending, underemployment, or simply “loaning money” to their children (rendering themselves below the threshold) once they became infirmed) could qualify for Other People’s Money.

      Let;s not forget that a MediCAID recipient is “entitled” to $25K per yr in nursing home funds. Those who have been prudent or have not done the things mentioned above will need to pay for services out of their own bank account.

      What’s the point of a Constitution?

      • Lenny says:

        Where is the $7,300 per child per semester handout for Harry Potter schools for illegals in the Constitution?

        • Lenny says:

          Where is the clause that says governors shall illegally bribe hillbilly legislators to vote for handouts for illegals in sanctuary cities?

          • Lenny says:

            Governor Bill Lee only supports sanctuary cities of Memphis and Nashville. If vouchers are so great, why can’t Tennesseans in Knoxville access them?

            Totally unconstitutional.

        • MARLE says:

          Federal spending on education is about 8%…the rest is state and local. A state is obviously free, under the Constitution, to spend a million dollars per child if it wants to.”

          Medicaid spending in each state is more than half funded by the Federal government. In many states it approaches 75% Federally funded. Food Stamps, another means-tested, eligibility program is 100% funded by the Feds.

          • James White says:

            Yes the States are free to spend the states money on Education or Medical (but check the State’s constitution first), according to the federal constitution. But there should be NO Federal money to spend on Education or Medical.

          • MARLE says:

            There is nothing in the US constitution that speaks to a limitation on state spending per pupil for education. So when most people speak about unconstitutionality they mean a violation of the US, not state, constitution.

          • James White says:


  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    Constitutional issues aside, this is such a stupid game. The states usually have constitutional limitations on their ability to spend more money than they receive in taxes. The federal government has no limitations on its ability to borrow and print money so there has been a historic migration to the federal government of responsibilities that constitutionally belong to the states. All of this is caused by liberals buying votes by encouraging Americans to demand more government than they are willing to pay for in taxes. This irresponsibility has already led to a federal government with more power than was ever intended which is accompanied by a destruction of the beautiful constitutional arrangement that should have been our inheritance. The second shoe to drop will be the economic consequences of debt that is now growing at $1 TRILLION a year that this sad irresponsibility has caused.

    The American people insist on getting more government than they are willing to fund through taxes so they vote for liberals who will give them exactly that so consistently that centrist/tepid conservative Republicans have thrown in the towel and go along with the program

  • Lenny says:

    Is Bubba Gump Lee already looking to higher office? His legislative priorities are just bullet points on Washington DC elitist think-tank PowerPoints. All of our money you’re going to blow on legal fees fighting and losing to the ACLU should be focused on Tennessee values.

    I’ll change my tune for a bribe, though.

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