May 23, 2017 — The budget proposal is a reminder that state lawmakers are nearly assured to have tough choices ahead of them regarding Medicaid funding and coverage in the coming years.
TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, is among the lowest cost programs in the country so any cuts that get passed either through the budget or the American Health Care Act — the House GOP health care bill — might not be felt immediately, said Laura Berlind, executive director of The Sycamore Institute, a public policy think tank in Nashville.
The direction of the administration is clear from the proposal and the AHCA, Berlind said: the GOP led government wants to cut funding and give states the chance to either implement a block grant or a per capita cap funding mechanism. TennCare covers 1.5 million people.
But long-term changes in funding raise the specter of changes in what and who is eligible for TennCare, which currently covers children, pregnant women, some elderly people and people with disabilities. The state did not expand Medicaid and currently covers fewer people under a leaner benefit structure than other states.