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Barbara Jones Hopes Her Story Will Help Make a Difference

Barbara Jones wants her experience with getting TennCare to be “shared with the world.” 


She moved here from California in June and disenrolled from Medicaid in CA to enroll for Medicaid in TN. Nobody told her disenrollment needed to happen at the end of the month. She called TennCare and gave them her information for an application, but she didn’t hear back for weeks. She eventually called CA Medicaid and they told her she was still enrolled because she didn’t disenroll at the end of the month. This created a gap in her coverage – she had to wait until the end of the next month to apply. She was worried about bills piling up during this time.  


Barbara finally got disenrolled from CA Medicaid and went online to start a new TennCare application. After filling out the application, she didn’t hear anything back for a while. She called TennCare, and they told her the application was pending and they didn’t know when it would go through. She called back 3 or 4 times and was told the same thing. Finally, someone told her she needed to provide receipts for her property. She was told she didn’t respond “no” to questions in the application asking if she owned a home/car/etc. She answered “N/A” but this apparently wasn’t good enough. She then had to write 8 or 9 separate letters to TennCare for each item she doesn’t have. 


After all of this, her application still hadn’t gone through. She called and found out they were waiting to do a PAE interview because she had answered yes to a question on the application asking if she wanted to receive in-home care. Nobody told her what PAE was – in fact no one ever explained to her that TennCare and Medicaid are the same thing. In California Medicaid was just called Medicaid. TennCare gave her a number to call to complete the PAE interview. She called the number and was told they don’t service people in Davidson County – the number was for the Memphis area. She called TennCare back and they still gave her the same number. She called again and was still told it was a Memphis number. She was asked to repeat the number she dialed as if she was the one who made the mistake – not TennCare. She couldn’t complete the interview. 


This was too stressful, so she decided to eliminate CHOICES from her application. She had to write another letter to TennCare saying that she no longer wanted in-home care. After this, TennCare said they would call her back, but they never did. She kept calling to find out her application status, and they kept telling her it was pending. They had no idea when she would find out if she was approved or not. Two weeks later, she went online and saw that she had been approved. There were three conflicting dates listed as the beginning of her coverage, so she waited until the latest one (August 1) to try to use her insurance. 


She called TennCare to get her ID number, and they said they couldn’t give it to her. They told her that her ID comes from the health plan she chose – in her case United Healthcare. She called United and was told that she was not in their system yet. She called back a few days later and received her insurance card. She finally has health insurance, but now she has to wait until November for appointments that she needs now because everything is filled up. She is wary of applying for SNAP even though she needs it because she does not want to go through a similar process. Getting TennCare was extremely difficult for her – it was mentally and emotionally draining. 

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