Tennessee Dems send Medicaid block grant objections to Biden

House members attend a floor session in Nashville on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State House and Senate Democrats are asking President Joe Biden to halt a Medicaid block grant for Tennessee.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration approved the block grant shortly before he left office. Republican state lawmakers rushed to OK the waiver before Trump left office last week.

Here is the full letter:

Dear President Biden,

We, the House and Senate Democrats of the Tennessee State Legislature, are writing you to request that you rescind the Medicaid block grant waiver that the Trump Administration granted, and our Republican colleagues in the General Assembly hastily voted to approve.

This waiver gives Tennessee more control over spending Medicaid dollars, in exchange for a cap on those funds. There’s a number of significant problems with this approach.

First and foremost, the state has proven themselves unable to handle the responsibility of being given more control over federal dollars. In addition to refusing to expand Medicaid for nearly a decade, our state government allowed a $732 million surplus of TANF funds to accumulate, rather than spend that money on what it was intended for – helping families in need.

The waiver allows for reducing the population of the 1.4 million Tennesseans eligible for Medicaid if there are problems re-registering beneficiaries. It also hands near-total oversight of the funds over to TennCare (Tennessee’s Medicaid program), which has a history of disfunction and unnecessary barriers to enrollment.

Since the outgoing administration first introduced the block grant proposal in 2017, Tennessee has been the only state to take up the offer. Even the most conservative legislatures across the country knew this was a bad deal. The New York Times referred to Tennessee’s undertaking of the block grant as a “structural experiment,” and the test subjects are working Tennesseans, families, and seniors.

The state GOP, which pushed the approval of the block grant through at the Eleventh Hour prior to Inauguration Day, refused to work with Democrats to ensure the proposal would be fair, legal, and appreciated by all Tennesseans. If they did, we would have pointed out the issues we saw with the deal, including the fact that it might not even be legally sound. Had they consulted with us, we could have come to a solution that better served people of Tennessee.

We know that they don’t want this program for the purpose of serving Tennesseans: they want this program for future political campaign purposes. Millions of Tennesseans will remain uninsured, this program will end up costing our taxpayers hefty legal fees, and the end result will likely be that a court will overturn it – unless your incoming administration can stop this waiver before it starts.

Thank you for your consideration.

40 Responses to Tennessee Dems send Medicaid block grant objections to Biden

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    Tom Wilson says:

    Democrats need to shut up. They ruin everything they touch. Let’s try something new. Medicare is broke. This is a novel idea.

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      Cryan says:

      Wow, you want to cancel Democrats and Medicare. I’d say the Boomers on this blog wouldn’t agree with your second point. Not sure what Medicare has to do with this post, though.

      #Snowflake

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      MARLE says:

      This POST is about Medicaid, not Medicare. Do you know the enormous difference?

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    Beatrice Shaw says:

    Biden will listen and right the wrong. We need STRAIGHT medicaid that costs us NO money.

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      MARLE says:

      If you want other people’s money why don’t you rob a bank or commit a B&E? Too lazy and risk averse? Hiring a politician to do your dirty work is not only lazy but chicken hearted.

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    David Collins says:

    Given the “quality” of the legislation passed by our legislature for the past 10 years or so, there is absolutely no reason to trust their collective judgment on ANYTHING! If there is a way to screw anything up you can rely on them to find it and enact it. Dumbest group of people under one roof in the world.

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    Susan E Gingrich says:

    Medicaid for healthy people capable of working is a terrible idea. This waiver was exactly what TN needed to help address health care costs for the populations Medicaid was intended for, when its legislation was passed. Fraud & abuse across the country are still rampant, but Biden just like Obama, will ignore it & spend more taxpayer dollars, without any real accountability. Working in government then, I saw it firsthand.

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      Beatrice Shaw says:

      There is NO fraud when dealing with healthcare for people. If there is abuse, it comes from big corporations managing the money.

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    David Collins says:

    Well Stuart, you have to admit, there is probably less fraud with healthcare now that Rick Scott is out of the health care business.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      David, I might have mentioned this before, but my primary interest in politics is making the Republican Party as conservative as possible and secondly depriving liberals and leftists of elective office. To that end, Rick Scott (Heritage-94%) in the U. S. Senate is exactly where I want him. So if you’re happy he “. . . is out of the health care business” I assure you, SO AM I.

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        David Collins says:

        Well Stuart, if you are that ga ga over Rick Scott then you must be one of those who puts party over principle. Scott is (as my father used to say) is as crooked as a barrel of fishhooks, which I guess, in the wake of Trump, makes him tailor-made for the current Republican party.

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          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          David!!! My heavens if you know that Rick has committed some crime why the heck are you wasting your time sending responses/replies to this forum? CALL THE FLORIDA COPS!!!! CALL THE FBI!!!

          What kind of citizen are you anyway? You know that a sitting U. S. Senator “. . .is as crooked a barrel of fishhooks. . . .” and you do nothing but make the charges I guess hoping somehow that someone who votes in Florida will read your accusations and vote Democrat when Rick is up in 2024. Forgive me David but all of this gives me the sneaking suspicion that you are not interested in justice or clean government at all. On the contrary, all you seem to be interested in is the Democratic Party winning one more Senate seat in 2024 which David makes you “. . .one of those who puts party over [justice].”

          For shame David, and here I thought you were one of those clean government mavens I know all of this is shocking because it’s not your self-image, but best you hear it from a friend like me.

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          MARLE says:

          Stuart does not put Party over principle but he absolutely is proud to put individual politicians whom he supports over principle.

          He has said too many times to count that his favorite politicians should do nothing to defend principles, ideology, or the like IF it might cost them their seat. They should never speak up on issues, regardless of merit, that might put them at odds with the voters or the party.

          Principle is way down the totem pole when it gets in the way of re-election.

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            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Weeeeeeeell not quite. It’s a balancing test. To go against the Republican party bigwigs regarding a matter of principle when your constituents support you or you can get them to support you is courageous and should be encouraged. The principle you’re supporting has to be very important if you go against the party AND your constituents regarding a matter that your constituents feel so strongly about disagreeing with you that it might cost you your office. In short, it better be worth your political career. It isn’t everyday a principle comes up that meets that test. It’s a situation that calls for you asking any number of your fellow Republicans who virtually spend all their time in the tall grass whether you can join them for awhile.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      While we are on the topic of my first political priority did you see the news?!?!? Ohio’s Lamar Alexander (Heritage*50%), Rob Portman (Heritage-56%) is retiring. At long last another Republican Senate centrist fossil is ready to go to the Museum of Natural History! OK fellow conservatives, save your money because the legendary nightmare of the left, the fabulous Jim Jordan (Heritage-94%) is taking off his warm up jacket so great things might be in store for us in Ohio in 2022.

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    steve cates says:

    Lamar has not moved to OH, has he?

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      What if he has, somehow I think the people of Ohio have had their fill of Republican centrist fossils.

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        Taxpayer #314 says:

        The entire USA has had it’s FILL of republican conservative fossils. It is time for a change and let some sunlight in.

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          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Poor Taxpayer, if the Big Guy’s administration continues for the next two years as it has begun in the first two weeks by lurching left in policy after policy and that is parlayed with the madmen of the left seeking to “cancel” voices of dissent on the right the usual losses the party in power suffers in the midterm election will pale to insignificance compared to the shellacking the Democrats will suffer in 2022. I am simply preparing for what is to come Taxpayer.

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    steve cates says:

    It is amazing that folks posting here do not know the difference between Medicaid and Medicare. And for anyone to say that to “work “means having insurance is as out-of-date as high button shoes… . akin to “Let them eat cake!”…. or “I don’t care, do u?”!!!

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Now steve, that last analogy was a low blow indeed. I ask you, and all my other friends on this forum, to please refrain from saying anything to remind me of the fact that the breathtaking Melania is no longer our First Lady. My lord, SHE WAS THE BEST EVER!!! I especially loved the fact how both of us share a particular compassion for the little guy but don’t exactly wear it on our sleeve. I’m starting to tear up so I just ask you, please just leave Mel. . . . . .

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        Jonathan Swift says:

        Stuart, I wish you were being sarcastic about Melanoma, but I fear that you actually are enamored of her. Sorry, but she is out of your league.

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          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          I am indeed!!! And not so fast. I just know I know more Eastern European history than Trump. I would have pursued it but I always thought she was taller than me, certainly in heels, which is simply unacceptable, so I just said to myself “Forget about it.”

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            Taxpayer #314 says:

            Yes, most of the world has seen her “BE BEST” parts in all those glorious photos, it is all trash Stuart and I understand a lot more about YOU now that you have revealed your admiration for HER. Bottom Feeding! Are you sure you are past the Trump aura?

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            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Oh my Lord Taxpayer! What a find you are! An actual living, breathing left wing prude! How many of those do we have in this country? I am sure we can find a few in some of our declining mainline Protestant churches, even a few Catholics here and there, but to have one right here on Erik’s blog.

            Great to have you aboard Taxpayer. Unlike a growing number of leftists, as a libertarian conservative I welcome diversity of thought and attitude. I think we are all so much more well rounded when it is present.

            A left wing prude, can you imagine. . . .

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            MARLE says:

            The designer purse she was wearing on her stage-left departure via Marine 1 cost $74K, Stuart. Are you the sort who would be willing to spend that on a handbag? Imagine what her whole closet costs!

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            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            I would have a sense of proportion here as I do everywhere. After all, I am married to a stunningly beautiful woman. Now assuming behind closed doors she was as beautiful so as to make me one very happy man, and assuming I had more money than I could reasonably expect to spend in a number of lifetimes, whatever she would want I would attempt to provide. As always, I approach grave matters like this with an enviable calm sense of proportion.

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    Beatrice Shaw says:

    Heels? Explains a lot. Thank you

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Sorry Beatrice, I mislaid my urban dictionary and I do so want to speak like all the semi-literates that I encounter when I’m out and about so PLEASE, tell me the correct modern up to the minute word to use for those spikes that normal women wear when not attending a feminist consciousness raising meeting.

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      Taxpayer #314 says:

      There is a woman out there that would actually live with and put up with Stuart?? Wow.

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    Birchall Barnes says:

    So instead of blaming “the other side” all the damn time, how about some ideas about how to make Medicaid work for qualified, underprivileged people.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      The problem is that it takes someone with intimate knowledge of how Medicaid operates on the ground to do that and most people with such knowledge are either bureaucrats who are simply paid to pull and push the levers or providers who have found a way to make a buck out of the system as is.. As a taxpayer from 10,000 ft. up all I want my elected officials to so is to make sure only essential services are covered by the system and to root out fraud. This can be done most efficienty if we send the whole program back to the states and do away with “federal funding” which is nothing more than running up the federal debt. Are we giving generous finders fees for all those who alert officials as to fraud? All programs will work better if they were funded and controlled closer to the point of service.

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    Cryan says:

    Stuart has lost his mind… Must have been short Gamestop.

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    Taxpayer #314 says:

    Stuart truly believes he is the “man with a plan.” The truth is he has formed his opinions on how the government works (or in his view, how it does NOT work) by being an ultra conservative living in ultra conservative Tennessee for so long – he does not realize yet that the so called “Evangelical Conservatives” he worships just might be part of the problem. A state government that is at ease enough to let the hungry starve or let the sick wilt away, is a major problem in our state right now. Conservatives just can NOT show even a little compassion. The republican party has squandered so much wealth and has nothing tangible to show for it in our state. Yes, Todays news says we need this GAME stuff to STOP!

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    mike swafford says:

    I just be glad to get a really Governor here in Tennessee, These Businessmen are Killing US.

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