Feds approve Medicaid block grant, but for how long?

Tennessee’s Medicaid block grant has been approved in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s administration. The questions will be whether the program will proceed once Democrat Joe Biden takes over on Jan. 20.

Here’s the release from Gov. Bill Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After more than a year of discussions and negotiations with the federal government, Tennessee’s Medicaid “Block Grant” waiver amendment received approval today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  Tennessee is the first state in the nation to be granted approval for this type of block grant arrangement, which will result in an innovative, alternative financing arrangement for its Medicaid program and provide additional flexibilities relative to its administration.

TennCare submitted Amendment 42 to CMS in November 2019 in accordance with legislation adopted by the Tennessee General Assembly during the 2019 legislative session.  The legislation directed the governor to submit the waiver for federal approval. 

The negotiated agreement includes the major components and principles outlined in TennCare’ s original proposal to CMS, building upon Tennessee’s history of effective management of its Medicaid program and providing opportunities for additional federal funding for the purpose of improving the health of TennCare members and communities throughout the state.

“Today’s agreement represents a continuation of Tennessee’s commitment to innovate, lead and improve,” said Governor Bill Lee. “We have sought to fundamentally change an outdated and ineffective Medicaid financing system that incentivizes states to spend more taxpayer dollars rather than rewarding states for value, quality and efficiency. Our approved plan will create an unprecedented opportunity for Tennessee to be rewarded for its successful administration of TennCare and further improve the health of TennCare members and Tennessee communities with that reward.”

“We approached our negotiations with CMS and the ultimate agreement with one overriding question and directive from Governor Lee – Will this plan benefit Tennessee, our TennCare program and the people we serve,” said Stephen Smith, TennCare Director. “We are convinced the answer is yes.  This gives Tennessee the real opportunity to enhance the services we provide to Tennesseans.”

Pursuant to Public Chapter 481, from 2019, implementation of the waiver agreement must be authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly. 

The approved waiver amendment is available on the Division of TennCare’s website at https://www.tn.gov/tenncare/policy-guidelines/tenncare-1115-demonstration.html

20 Responses to Feds approve Medicaid block grant, but for how long?

  • Avatar
    steve cates says:

    Give us EXPANDED MEDICAID!! You republicans can do it with ONE VOTE and that has been the case for TEN YEARS!!! Show your “family values” and “christian faith” and DO IT!! Enable about 300,000 of our fellow Tennesseans to have INSURANCE. Help our hospitals STAY OPEN!!!

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      There is nothing family values about confiscating one person’s labor for the benefit of another. Didn’t we visit this issue during the Civil War?

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    Beatrice Shaw says:

    Amen!!!

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    Taxpayer #314 says:

    This program was dominated by republican conservative thinking where “less is more.” That is less for YOU means MORE for me, that’s how the republican lawmakers think. You can rest assured that it will not work as planned and the blame and lying will start soon after offering excuses as to why this is not their fault.

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    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    We must not do anything that will make Tennessee a particularly attractive place for unproductive citizens nor should we do anything that will needlessly place an undue burden on state taxpayers in the long run do to the need for more care facilities or changes in the federal program that will place an increased financial burden on the state. It looks like Georgia is well on its way to making itself an attractive place for the unproductive. I say let them have the monopoly they so richly deserve. Congratulations to the Lee administration for putting the taxpayers first by coming up with innovative programs for financing medical care for the poor.

    • Avatar
      Taxpayer #314 says:

      The state of TN has very little medical care for the poor. Having so little healthcare for the poor is how the republicans “put the taxpayers first.”

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    MARLE says:

    Georgia is also a place for the PROductive to be. You can attend one of the best engineering schools in the country, in-state, for free. You can take your degree, mid-career at age 45, and decide “Do I want to stay in the $800K job I currently have or switch industries and accept the $840K job offer I just got”. All without changing zip codes.

    Yes it’s a terrible place to be, Stuart. No one should want to go there

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      That’s what is shocking about the recent elections. It was certainly not a terrible place, and it may not be a terrible place now but the handwriting is clearly on the wall. The terrible heartbreak of liberalism is on the rise in Georgia and that is a most bearish sign for the future of that state.

      Perhaps a “free” university education for those who will benefit from that education paid for by those who on the average will have a lower earning power than those beneficiaries was the canary in the coal mine so to speak of what is now rearing its ugly head. To the productive citizens of Georgia as well as Davidson County Tennessee GET OUT! GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!

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        MARLE says:

        It’s paid for by the VOLUNTARY purchase of lottery tickets. The dufus cohort pays Voluntarily to educate the not-dufus cohort. My grandson with his 20pts short of Perfect Math SAT is very appreciative. He will make an excellent Tech engineer followed by an MBA just like his uncle.

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Money is fungible so if the proceeds of the lottery is not used to pay for the education of what will be the top earners in society who obviously can pay for their own education through loans or on the spot it would pay for something like medical and dental care for the people steve cates is whining about. Its simply a bad allocation of resources for the citizens to pay for goods and services for the well off or soon to be well off but this is the bribery that takes place in order for the political class to buy votes from the citizenry with their own money. I vote “NO” and I hope Heritage key votes it.

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            MARLE says:

            GA has an income tax so the top earners in fact DO pay for GA’s poor to get health care through Medicaid (50% paid by state/50% paid by Fed INcome tax) The “steve’s” of GA are indeed cared for by top earners.

            But the next tier down of earners with the semi-dufus kids…..now they get the short end of the stick. They pay income taxes but their kids don’t have SAT’s in that rarified Genius territory to get them into Tech.

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            And as for fungible money…..it is earmarked. So if it is not spent on that for which it was created the source goes away. No Lottery if no Education funding. The state doesn’t provide the free education IF the lottery doesn’t exist. That is the Opposite of fungible dollars, Stuart.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        In 2020 the Entire GA House of Rep was up for re-election. Rep lost 2 seats and now hold a 103-77 majority.

        The Disaster Area of GA was only in the National Election where we had the Problem of Trump.

        The jury is out on GA (as a whole and not Metro Atlanta) as a liberal bastion at the NATIONAL level for the future; we have 6 yrs for another duet of Rep senate candidates and 4 yrs for a presidential election.

        You have to look at the FACTS. Stop listening to comments from those who shoot from the hip offering Zero facts and lots of my second cousin once removed says “————-“. We have some on here…..

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          No I don’t think that’s right. No state has two Senators running at the same time. The Loeffler seat is up in two or four years, Ossoff in six. Loeffler was only running this time because she was appointed mid-term by Kemp and this was the next general election when her appointment had to be confirmed by the voters.

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            You’re right it’s 2 years. Isakson stepped down after being elected in 2016. So we’ll see in 2 years the lingering damage. But as for Rep strength statewide the Nov 2020 elections do not show a significant erosion of power.

            In that same 2 yr period the Governorship will be up and Kemp’s term will expire.
            Abrams ran a close race and with her new glory of get out the vote she will be a contender. Add to that Trump’s threat to go to GA Often to destroy him.

            GA has been poisoned. Too bad b/c the core is still REP.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        Stuart..I see from your comments here that you favor Means Testing.

        You want the lottery to pay for the college ed of poor geniuses who can get into and maintain the required GPA to hold the Hope Scholarship. But you want the geniuses of wealthy parents to pay for the STATE supported university called GA TEch?

        Great…I hope you encourage heritage to get right on that

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    Susan Patriots Reborn says:

    Medicaid waivers tailored to a state’s needs and desires are valuable, congrats to TN for approval! I fear the return to Obama’s bad policies with Biden. States signing up the most people for food stamps received bonuses & oversight of Medicaid and other federal dollars was minimized. Tax payers seem to be the least appreciated special interest group.

  • Avatar
    Christina says:

    Food stamp applications increased under Obama because the economy cratered in 2008, under Bush II, remember?

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    Taxpayer #314 says:

    The last republican president that had a balanced budget leaving office was Eisenhower. The rest of the republican Presidents have failed miserably and left office with the country deep in debt, just like trump is about to do. Republicans are terrible at managing budgets!!

  • Avatar
    Taxpayer #314 says:

    Yes, Trump had a bad influence on the election in Georgia but the bottom line is that the general public does not tend to vote for liars and cheaters and those that are in politics for self serving purposes. This is not new to Georgia, Tennessee or any other state. The republican party is dwindling because it’s leaders will repeatedly not condemn the lies and dirty tricks and illegal activities that the party uses to control elections. Their voter suppression activities are well known and plainly anti-democratic.

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