Medicaid Block Grants in Tennessee 2019-08-20T11:56:57-05:00

April 5th, 2018 / Authors: Keila Franks and Gordon Bonnyman

Medicaid Block Grant Proposal: Another attempt to cut healthcare for Tennesseans.

The Tennessee legislature is considering a bill (HB 1280 / SB 1428) to convert federal funding for Medicaid (called TennCare in Tennessee) into a “block grant.”

Here are the 3 things you need to know

1.  A block grant is a Medicaid cut in disguise, and Tennessee should not be fooled.  The federal government is seeking to cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid. Block grants are their strategy to make those cuts. Other states aren’t asking for a block grant, because they understand it’s a bad deal.

2.  This plan will slash health coverage for the most vulnerable Tennesseans, especially people with pre-existing conditions. Under a block grant, federal funding is capped. As the federal government saves more and more, the state’s cost goes up and up! Rising health costs – for growing numbers of elderly Tennesseans who need help, to pay higher prescription drug prices, or to respond to the opioid crisis – will fall on the state. The state will have to cut Medicaid year after year. Saving money will require the state to cut services to those with the most expensive healthcare needs – critically ill children, frail seniors, and people with pre-existing conditions.

3. These proposed Medicaid cuts endanger the health care of all Tennesseans, not just the 1.3 million children and adults enrolled in Medicaid in Tennessee. Under a block grant, many patient protections could end. These changes could jeopardize patient safety at nursing homes, essential services for critically ill babies and children, and access to opioid addiction treatment.

Myth-busting and truth-telling: there’s a lot of bad information floating around. Here are the facts:

1. Gov. Lee and the legislature do not need a block grant to have “flexibility.” If the state wants more flexibility, the Trump Administration has made clear that it will give states all of the flexibility they can legitimately ask for. And the state can get that flexibility without subjecting the state budget to the enormous financial risk that would come with a block grant.

2.  This bill does not expand coverage to a single uninsured family. The bill says the federal block grant funding could not be used to cover anyone other than the current Medicaid population.

Call Gov. Lee and Lt. Gov McNally, and tell them to vote NO on the Medicaid block grant bill!

Gov. Lee: (615) 741-2001 

Lt. Gov. McNally: (615) 741-6806

When you call them, you can say:

Please do not cut Medicaid, which will jeopardize the health coverage of Tennessee’s children, nursing home residents, and people with disabilities. A block grant is a cut, and cutting access to healthcare is not something we need in our state. A Medicaid block grant would also have devastating impacts on services and centers that all Tennesseans rely on, including neonatal intensive care units, burn units, nursing homes, and addiction treatment centers.