“I am opposed to the proposal to radically change Tennessee’s Medicaid partnership with the federal government by converting federal funding for TennCare into a “block grant.” This proposal would cause immense harm and jeopardize coverage for vulnerable Tennesseans.   Medicaid was created to help children, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Americans get vital health coverage they need. This proposal goes against the objectives of Medicaid because it gives Tennessee new authority to cut services for these vulnerable populations. The state could eliminate or restrict services like physical therapy, hospice, and transplant coverage without normal federal oversight – and arbitrarily limit who gets them. The proposal could also cut back on core health care services like hospital care, without federal approval or public notice, and exclude coverage of high-cost prescription drugs.   I practiced pediatrics in Ohio for 30 years, and was always happy to help my Medicaid patients. It was such a good move for children and people with disabilities and cancer, when our Republican Governor, John Kasich, expanded Medicaid benefits in our state.  Immediately after passage, over 26,000 patients received coverage for their cancer treatment!! And it continues to help the needy in Ohio.  TennCare needs more accountability, not less. The state should not be allowed to make changes to the Medicaid program without federal oversight or eliminate federal standards, which are in place for the protection of patients. Without such guardrails, the state could return to the days when managed care contractors failed to provide care to patients and providers were left unpaid. This proposal invites fraud and abuse and threatens the availability of vital health coverage for Tennesseans. This waiver is fundamentally flawed and cannot be fixed. It goes against the goals and purpose of the Medicaid program. We respectfully urge you not to go forward with this harmful proposal.”

– Jane E. Roach, MD

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