Medicaid Block Grants in Tennessee 2019-10-16T12:00:32-05:00


Here’s the top three things you need to know about Tennessee’s Medicaid block grant proposal:

  1. The state’s TennCare block grant proposal puts coverage and services at risk for vulnerable Tennesseans. The proposal would give Tennessee new authority to cut services for children, seniors, low-income parents, and people with disabilities. Under the proposal, the state could:
    1. eliminate or restrict services like physical therapy, hospice, and medicine without normal federal oversight – and arbitrarily limit who gets them,
    2. cut back on core health care services like hospital care and emergency services, without federal approval or public notice,
    3. allow Medicaid managed care plans to restrict access to needed care, and
    4. exclude coverage of some important prescription drugs.
  2. TennCare is the last state agency that should be given a blank check. Even with current measures of accountability, Tennessee is at the bottom of numerous health measures, including infant mortality, maternal mortality, and life expectancy. Rather than ensuring all vulnerable Tennesseans who are eligible for TennCare are getting the vital medical services they need, TennCare has harmed patients with their track record of incompetence. Over the past two years, TennCare cut off 200,000 children, the great majority of whom were still eligible. Seniors have also suffered when TennCare’s errors result in money being taken out of their Social Security checks. TennCare needs more accountability, not less.
  3. The block grant does nothing to address the real health concerns of Tennesseans, and in fact, it would make things worse. TN has some of the most daunting challenges facing any state, including being among the worst in dumping eligible children from coverage and in the rate of rural hospital closures. Rather than adequately addressing the real concerns of Tennesseans, politicians have instead seized on the block grant as a distraction from their failure to come up with real answers to our real and urgent problems. Not only that, but state leaders have said that the goal of the block grant is to take $2 billion out of Tennessee’s healthcare system. The state’s principal goal is for the state to obtain “upwards of $1 billion” in so-called “savings,” according to Gov. Lee. Since TN will only keep half of the money saved (with the other half going to the federal government), that means the state plans to cut at least $2 billion out of the $12 billion TennCare program. The block grant proposal would enable the state to divert funds from the health care system and spend the money however it chooses. It’s a transfer from patients and providers to the state and federal governments.

To learn more, you can click here to watch a recording of a webinar we did about the Medicaid block grant proposal or click here to view the PowerPoint slides from that webinar.

If you are interested in submitting a comment on behalf of your organization, we created a template comment and comment guidance for organizations.

Join the voices of those who oppose this harmful proposal!

Experts agree that Medicaid block grants pose dire threats to our healthcare system and vulnerable individuals. The nation’s most respected patient advocacy groups oppose block grants as a threat to patients, and the Washington Post warned that Tennessee is about to sabotage its own health care system.

Your voice matters. Submit a public comment opposing this proposal before October 18, 2019.

Click here to take 2 minutes to submit your comment.

Give your commments in person at a public hearing! 


  • University Center, UC Ballroom A (3rd Floor), 499 University Street, Memphis
  • Date: Tuesday, October 15
  • Time: 1:30-2:30 PM Central Time


  • Chattanooga Public Library, Downtown Branch Auditorium, 1001 Broad Street, Chattanooga
  • Date: Wednesday, October 16
  • Time: 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time

Past public hearings 

Middle Tennessee Location:

  • Family and Children’s Service, Honey Alexander Center, Training Room B 2400 Clifton Avenue, Nashville
  • Date: Tuesday, October 1
  • Time: 2:00 p.m. Central Time

East Tennessee Location:

  • Burlington Branch of the Knox County Library, Community Meeting Room 4614 Asheville Highway, Knoxville
  • Date: Wednesday, October 2
  • Time: 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time

West Tennessee Location:

  • Jackson-Madison County Library, Program Center 433 East Lafayette Street, Jackson
  • Date: Thursday, October 3
  • Time: 2:30 p.m. Central Time