State needs district court approval to reform TennCare, court says

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Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is appealing a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee that said he needs the court's approval to initiate reforms to the TennCare program.

"This is an emotional and difficult enough process without the federal courts inserting themselves in a state matter," a state official stated.

Bredesen announced reforms to the program last month. They include cutting 323,000 from TennCare rolls and activating new coverage limits for others covered by the program. He said the cuts would save the state $575 million during the fiscal year starting July 1.

While nursing home care is not covered under TennCare, under the proposed cuts, the "spend down" category would no longer be available in Tennessee, and those who qualify for this category will lose their Medicaid benefit, a published report said.

TennCare covers the working poor who are not qualified for Medicaid because they make too much money. The governor's plan ends coverage for adults who make more than the Medicaid cutoff, but the plan retains it for more than 100,000 children whose families are in the same range.