task force

Lee names census task force

Gov. Bill Lee awaits his first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has named the membership of the Tennessee Complete Count Committee, which is tasked with working along the U.S. Census Bureau in 2020.

“I am proud to appoint these leaders and appreciate their willingness to serve our state and nation in this critical undertaking,” Lee said in a release. “We look forward to working together to make sure all Tennesseans are accounted for and our state receives the necessary resources to support our growing population.”

Here’s who Lee named to the panel:

The following Tennesseans were appointed to serve on the Tennessee Complete Count Committee: 

  • Jeff Aiken, President, Tennessee Farm Bureau
  • Joseph Butler, Mayor, Carroll County
  • Karen Camper, Tennessee House Minority Leader, 87th District
  • Butch Eley, Chief Operating Officer, Governor’s Office
  • Brandon Gibson, Senior Advisor, Governor’s Office
  • Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State
  • Clifton Harris, President, Urban League of Middle Tennessee
  • Mike Harrison, Executive Director, Tennessee Association of County Mayors
  • Jack Johnson, Tennessee Senate Majority Leader, 23rd District
  • Mary Kiger, Executive Director, Tennessee Charitable Care Network
  • Mike Krause, Executive Director, Tennessee Higher Education Commission
  • Tim Kuhn, Director, Tennessee State Data Center
  • William Lamberth, Tennessee House Majority Leader, 44th District
  • David Lillard, Tennessee State Treasurer
  • Raul Lopez, Executive Director, Latinos for Tennessee
  • Sen. Becky Massey, 6th District
  • Anna McDonald, Chief of Staff, First Lady’s Office
  • Randy McNally, Lieutenant Governor, 5th District
  • Stuart McWhorter, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
  • Margaret Mehary, Executive Director, Tennessee Municipal League
  • Tony Parker, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Correction
  • Ryan Porter, COO and General Counsel, Jackson Chamber
  • Claude Pressnell, Director, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association
  • Emily Reynolds, Vice-Chair, Tennessee Board of Regents
  • Beverly Robertson, CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber
  • Cameron Sexton, Speaker of the House, 25th District
  • Jim Shulman, Executive Director, Tennessee Commission on Aging & Disability
  • Rep. Robin Smith, 26th District
  • Rufus Smith, Executive Chairman, Memphis Christian Pastors Network
  • Gloria Sweet-Love, President, Tennessee NAACP
  • David Tomita, Former Mayor, Johnson City
  • Flora Tydings, Chancellor, Tennessee Board of Regents
  • Carol Westlake, Executive Director, Tennessee Disability Coalition
  • Joseph Williams, Director of External Affairs, Governor’s Office
  • Marie Williams, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
  • Justin Wilson, Tennessee State Comptroller
  • Dave Worland, Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
  • Jeff Yarbro, Tennessee Senate Minority Leader, 21st District

Lee announces membership of Health Care Modernization Task Force

Gov. Bill Lee welcomes delegates to a summit on economically distressed counties in Linden on Aug. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has announced the membership of his Health Care Modernization Task Force. Here is who’s on it:

Co-chairs:

  • Stuart McWhorter, commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Administration.
  • Bill Carpenter, former chairman and CEO of LifePoint Health.

Task force membership:

  • James Bailey, professor and director of the Center for Health System Improvement at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
  • Mike Carrigan, chief administrator of Premier Medical Group.
  • Brian DeBusk, first vice-chairman on the board of trustees if Lincoln Memorial University.
    James Hildreth, president of Meharry Medical C0llege.
  • Melanie Keller, CEO Meritan Inc.
  • Mary Kiger, executive director of TN Charitable Care Network.
  • Kathie Krause, chief nursing officer at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.
  • Shantelle Leatherwood, CEO of Christ Community Health Services.
  • Alan Levine, chairman, president, and CEO of Ballad Health.
  • Jim King, family physician.
  • Kim Parker, director of inpatient and crisis services, Pathways Behavioral Health Services.
  • Jeff Tibbals, Scott County Mayor.
  • Michael Ugwueke, president and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.
  • Andrea Willis, chief medical officer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
  • Randy Wykoff, dean and professor of the College of Public Health at  East Tennessee State University.

Lawmaker members:

  • Senate Speaker Pro Tem Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin.
  • Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson, R-Hixson.
  • Senate Commerce Chair Paul Bailey, R-Sparta.
  • Senator Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis.
  • House Utilities Subcommittee Chair Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville.
  • House Insurance Committee Chair Robin Smith, R-Hixson.
  • House Business Subcommittee Chair Ron Travis, R-Dayton.
  • Rep. John DeBerry Jr., D-Memphis.

Lee administration gives first look at findings from health care meetings

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter has written an op-ed for The Tennessean about what he has found out during a series of closed-door meetings about the state health care in the state. Details of Gov. Bill Lee’s health care modernization task force are expected to be released later this week.

The placement of the op-ed is curious given that the paper’s own news staff was thwarted in its efforts to cover the meetings.

McWhorter said the meetings involved the heads of eight state agencies and private sector experts to “explore improving rural health, reducing chronic conditions, improving transparency and helping to foster innovation.” The discussions are apparently separate from the Medicaid block grant proposal that was panned in a series of public hearings last week.

McWhorter warned that there’s “no silver bullet,” but gave this summary of what was found:

  • First, we heard that transportation is a significant barrier to care. Lack of transportation keeps some Tennesseans from having access to a primary care physician or out-patient services. This inevitably leads to medical problems becoming unmanageable, requiring emergency transportation and services for conditions that could have been managed better.
  • Second, technology, including telehealth, is an underutilized tool in addressing access issues, especially in rural areas of our state. This technology is already having significant positive impacts for other industries. For example, telehealth has enabled schools and law enforcement to provide health care and better manage behavioral health issues which resulted in fewer school absences and reduced jail time.
  • Third, rural areas are hit harder by these issues than other parts of the state, specifically in regard to lack of providers. Tennessee, not unlike other states, continually struggles to attract providers, which can lead to hospital and physician practice closures and, subsequently, a lack of available care within reasonable proximity to Tennesseans.
  • Fourth, addressing social determinants of health could help foster healthier generations. Such efforts can aid in reducing costs, particularly for consumers during a national transition from fee-for-service to value-based care, but also for taxpayers as some costly medical services are preventable by introducing basic lifestyle changes.
  • The fifth and final theme touched on the market challenges related to medical billing. This issue is complex and includes some of the largest facets of our health care system. There is no quick solution for this issue, but it is one our state will need to have a detailed conversation about in the months and years ahead.