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Michele Johnson, Executive Director of the Tennessee Justice Center, made the following statement about CMS’s approval of Tennessee’s proposal to block grant TennCare:
Federal officials approved Tennessee’s proposal to block grant its Medicaid program, known as TennCare. No other state has sought a block grant, and for good reason. Tennessee is one of a handful of states still denying Medicaid to its working uninsured, and the block grant is just another example of putting politics ahead of health care during this pandemic. It’s a political gimmick that jeopardizes access to healthcare for hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans by creating a state budget booby trap. Those Tennesseans in jeopardy include people in nursing homes, those struggling with mental illness, diabetes, cancer, and countless other complex conditions.
It is telling that this says nothing about the pandemic, even though Tennessee has been one of the states that has had the most ineffective response and worst infection rates. It says not one word about our failing rural hospitals, despite the worst crisis in rural health of any state. It doesn’t address the hundreds of thousands of people left without coverage because the state blocks their access to federal Medicaid benefits. State officials have an abysmal record of mismanaging programs that help those in need. The block grant will allow these same state officials to inflict further damage on Tennessee’s health care system.
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