Tennessee cuts 323,000 from expanded Medicaid program

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Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) said Monday he will slash 323,000 adults from the state's expanded Medicaid rolls, cutting a program known as TennCare, to save about $1.7 billion a year. He will also change benefits for thousands more under the program.

While nursing home care is not covered under TennCare, the "spend down" category will no longer be available in Tennessee and those who qualify for this category will lose their Medicaid benefit, according to a published report. People qualify for ''spend down'' when their nursing home expenses reduce their income to Medicaid levels. Currently 1,500 Tennesseans are in the "spend down" category.

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.

Bredesen said in November he planned to return to basic Medicaid, ending coverage for 430,000 adults and children, due to rising costs. He and lawyers for the working poor then entered into discussions.