A long-standing Republican goal of converting the Medicaid program to block grants is moving forward, though at a much smaller scale than what’s being considered on Capitol Hill, for now.
Tennessee’s House, Finance Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would grant the state a fixed amount for TennCare each year from the federal government. The measure will now move to the full House following minimal debate, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
If successful, it would direct Gov. Bill Lee (R) to submit a waiver to the feds to send Tennessee a set amount each year from Medicaid, in a bid to limit spending growth and curtail provider payments. Today, the federal government pays a negotiated percentage, regardless of how much costs escalate — about $7.5 billion last year, out of the state’s more than $12 billion program.
Thirty organizations signed a letter opposing the proposal last week, including the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee.
“Our organizations are deeply concerned, however, by proposals to use the Medicaid waiver process to make changes that would adversely impact individuals,” the letter said. “For this reason, we respectfully oppose any proposal for a ‘block grant’ or other waiver that would radically alter TennCare and potentially endanger the public.”
Meanwhile, the President Trump’s budget is also mulling moving Medicaid to block grants on a national scale, a move fiercely opposed by skilled nursing industry advocates. Medicaid is currently SNFs’ largest payment source.