Gov. Bill Lee unveils $7.9 Billion TennCare Medicaid Block Grants


NASHVILLE — According to Tennessee has became the first state in the nation to start the process of seeking a controversial federal Medicaid block grant waiver pushed by the Trump administration.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday asked to convert much of the federal share of costs in the state and federally funded TennCare health care program for the poor into what state modeling projects as a $7.9 billion annual lump sum.

The governor is also making a novel request to share future anticipated savings in TennCare on a 50/50 basis with the federal government. Lee says if the past is any guide and U.S. Health and Human Services officials agree, it could provide upwards of $1 billion for Tennessee.

Lee proposes to plow the money into health, including rural health initiatives, and also is not ruling out select expansion of TennCare to new population categories.

“We’re excited about the prospects, and we think we have crafted a waiver that is going to really mitigate the risk that Tennesseans have [from a block grant] but actually give us an opportunity to benefit from the efficiencies that we have and from the way that we run our program,” Lee said during a Monday roundtable with Tennessee reporters.

The governor, who was joined by TennCare Deputy Commissioner Gabe Roberts, said if the waiver is accepted by the Trump administration as the state envisions, “that benefit will give us an opportunity to provide enhanced services to our TennCare population at the very least and potentially, for the same money, provide additional services to more people.

“So this could be a big win for the state,” Lee added.

(Read more: Lee vows to pursue Medicaid block grant but not accept one ‘that would be bad for Tennessee’)

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