A Victory for Tennesseans!
May 23, 2016- A ruling today by the federal Court of Appeals in Cincinnati represents a great win for vulnerable children and adults in every county in Tennessee. The court affirmed a September 2014 preliminary injunction in a favor of TennCare applicants in the Wilson case brought by TJC and colleagues at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP). We filed suit because the state was failing to process TennCare applications within federal time limits and refusing to allow applicants to appeal the delays. Thousands of applications were delayed for many months, and many simply disappeared altogether. TennCare officials argued it was only a temporary problem until the state had developed a new computer system. We noted that pregnant women, cancer patients, critically ill newborns and nursing home applicants could not wait for health care, and that an emergency order was needed for their protection. The federal court in Nashville agreed and ordered the state to afford a hearing to anyone whose application was delayed. Today’s ruling upheld that order.
The preliminary injunction that was upheld today has already benefited tens of thousands of Tennessee families. The state reported that, just in the first 9 months the injunction was in effect, over 20,000 delayed applicants had filed appeals. Most were able to receive TennCare as soon as they appealed. And, although the state now says the new computer system won’t be working for at least another year, the preliminary injunction has spurred improvements in the processing of applications, and the number of delays has been greatly reduced. The lawsuit will now go forward to address remaining problems with the application process.
TJC is enormously grateful for the generous, expert collaboration of our friends at SPLC and NHeLP, and for the many donors whose support made it possible for TJC to join in bringing the case.