Healthy Debate 2018: A Primer on Health & Budget Policy in Tennessee

Healthy Debate 2018

The Sycamore Institute’s Healthy Debate 2018 seeks to help current and aspiring policymakers understand key issues that affect the health and well-being of Tennesseans. This data-driven information and analysis highlights the connection between health and prosperity and that all policy decisions have trade-offs. Healthy Debate 2018 covers 4 broad topics based on work we have published to date.


Section 1 introduces basic concepts about Tennessee’s state budget.

Tennessee Budget Cycle - header Healthy Debate 2018: Understanding Tennessee’s Budget January 5, 2018 - The budget represents our policymakers' goals, the public goods and services intended to help meet those goals, and detailed plans to finance them.

Section 2 reviews the state of health and well-being across Tennessee.

The Drivers of Health in Tennessee Healthy Debate 2018: Health and Well-Being in Tennessee January 5, 2018 - To improve our state’s health outcomes, policymakers should understand the complex set of factors that influence them.

Section 3 connects the dots between Tennessee’s budget, economy, and health and well-being.

Connections Healthy Debate 2018: Connections Between Tennessee’s Budget, Economy, and Health and Well-Being January 5, 2018 - Health, prosperity, public policy...all of these things are connected.

Section 4 outlines some key challenges state policymakers could face in 2018 and beyond.

joshua-earle-12689 - cropped Healthy Debate 2018: Challenges on the Horizon January 5, 2018 - The opioid epidemic, recession readiness, and potential reforms and funding pressures from Congress that could affect the state budget.

This document was designed to be a resource for any Tennessean who hopes to make or influence public policy in our state.

The Sycamore Institute is committed to putting reliable data, research, and analysis in the hands of our state policymakers and the public. Our leadership and staff represent a wide range of political perspectives, yet we are bound by a shared vision of a healthier and more prosperous Tennessee. We believe in data-driven decision-making and the value of robust debate to guide progress toward that vision.

Parting Words

Tennessee’s economy, decisions about the state budget, and Tennesseans’ health and well-being connect in complicated ways. Each one affects the other. Anyone who wants to make or influence public policy in our state should seek to understand these connections. While every public policy decision involves trade-offs, a healthier Tennessee will be a more prosperous Tennessee.

The information in this primer serves as a baseline for understanding health and budget policy issues in our state. We encourage you to read our related work listed below and sign up for email alerts to get future reports and analysis delivered directly to your inbox.

*This document was updated on Jan. 11, 2018 to include additional information about TennCare.

Related Work by The Sycamore Institute

Understanding Tennessee’s Budget

Tennessee State Budget Primer: A Foundation for Understanding Our State’s Public Policies
updated November 2017

Health and Well-Being in Tennessee

Tennessee Health & Well-Being Index
March 2017

How Childhood Experiences Affect Lifelong Health
July 2017

Connections Between Tennessee’s Budget, Economy, and Health and Well-Being

5 Ways Public Policy Impacts Health
May 2017

Understanding Medicaid and TennCare: Key Concepts and Context to Know
June 2017

Medicaid Eligibility in Tennessee
August 2017

Medicaid Work Requirements in Tennessee
September – December 2017

The Economic Impact of Chronic Disease in Tennessee
November 2017

Challenges on the Horizon

The Opioid Epidemic in Tennessee: A 3-Part Introductory Series
August 2017

Analysis of Health and Medicaid Reform Efforts

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