Work reporting requirements are yet another attack on working families.

January 17, 2018 / Author: Anna Walton / Photos: Alex Kent

January 17,, 2018 / Author: Anna Walton / Photos: Alex Kent


Tennessee’s officials have launched another attack on working families.

Tennessee’s officials have launched another attack on working families. Not only are they not bringing home our federal tax dollars to provide insurance to low-wage workers, but they are actively trying to cut people off TennCare, our Medicaid safety net.

The state government – at the direction of the legislature — has officially submitted a proposal to federal Medicaid officials to add work reporting requirements as a condition of eligibility for parents on TennCare.

Learn more: Check out our webinar on work reporting requirements.

Comments are the best way to defeat this harmful policy. The federal government is required to consider all comments; if it doesn’t, then the proposal can be overturned. Comments are the reason Kentucky’s proposal was stopped in its tracks.

We have until February 7, 2019, at 11 PM CT to submit public comments opposing these harmful requirements. Fill out this quick survey to submit your comment! For assistance, check out our work reporting requirements comment guidance.

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Here’s What You Need to Know

  1. The proposal will take health coverage from parents and families.  The only non-disabled, non-elderly adults on TennCare are caregivers.  This proposal targets caregivers  – mostly moms – of school-aged kids. Nearly three-fourths of these parents are already employed. Stay-at-home moms caring for children with special health care needs, or homeschooling or unable to work due to domestic violence will all have to fill out lots of paperwork to keep from losing coverage. To cut off 2.8% of all TennCare beneficiaries, the government will create a costly bureaucracy of state employees to classify and monitor all 1.3 million beneficiaries.   It’ll employ one group of workers to monitor another.

After TennCare Work Reporting Requirements passed in the state, Danielle, fearing for the well-being of her disabled son, Malcolm, moved her family out of state. In addition to being Malcolm’s full-time caregiver, Danielle is also battling her own health crisis – the swelling of her brain has led to pinched nerves and other challenges.

2. The red tape is a pointless burden on employers and employees. This law will hit those with multiple and informal jobs particularly hard.  Parents and their employers will have to document and prove their work hours every single month. Many low-income workers have multiple employers or contract jobs, making it hard to document compliance.  (Only about half of businesses in Tennessee provide health insurance to their employees.

3. It’s a boondoggle that wastes taxpayers’ money. The state’s own calculation is that
TennCare will spend  $44 million to implement to save $10 million. The state will spend $34 million MORE than it would cost to leave these parents alone and let them have health care. Truly big government at its worst.

4. This complex, costly boondoggle is more than TennCare can handle. TennCare isn’t up to the task. Tennessee is the only state that does not have Medicaid caseworkers available in each county, which will force most people to submit documentation online. But that’s a problem because Tennessee is also the ONLY state without a functioning computer system for determining eligibility. A new system was due in 2013, but it’s still in the pilot phase. New reporting requirements will require significant re-programming of that new, unproven system. TennCare already has a troubled record. In the past two years, bureaucratic errors have mistakenly cost tens of thousands of eligible children and frail seniors their coverage. Tennessee is the last state equipped to safely administer the complicated reporting requirements it proposes.

5. Arkansas’s example demonstrates that hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans face the possibility of wrongful loss of insurance coverage. Medicaid recipients in Arkansas started phasing in reporting requirements on a pilot basis in mid-2018 and over 18,000 people quickly lost coverage. Only 15% of those who were subject to reporting overcame computer and bureaucratic problems to document their compliance. The problem will be much worse in Tennessee: The Tennessee law is more limited in who is eligible, and Arkansas also had a mature computer system and county Medicaid offices, which Tennessee lacks.