Blackburn Aims to Protect Tennessee's Medicaid Block Grant

After CMS recently approved block grants for Medicaid, the Biden administration made announcements that could jeopardize the waivers. Measure introduced by Sen. Blackburn would protect TennCare's recently acquired block grant waiver.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has introduced a measure designed to protect the recently approved block grant waiver for TennCare, the State of Tennessee’s Medicaid program.

Tennessee requested the waiver after the state General Assembly passed a law in 2019 directing Gov. Bill Lee’s administration to negotiate with CMS.

The program requires that TennCare maintain the current levels of service and populations served, but gives the agency increased flexibility to add new benefits without prior approval from CMS. Any savings the state achieves under the yearly cap will be eligible to be shared with Tennessee as long as certain quality and access metrics are achieved.

However, President Biden signed an executive order today that calls on HHS and other agencies to review current regulations, orders, guidance and policies related to Medicaid. The order requests they scrutinize “demonstrations and waivers, as well as demonstration and waiver policies, that may reduce coverage under or otherwise undermine Medicaid or the ACA.” That could be interpreted to include block grants.

Blackburn’s S.AMDT.178 aims to protect Tennessee’s decision to secure CMS’s block grant waiver for TennCare.

“A one size fits all approach to health care does not work,” Blackburn said. “Tennessee is a proven leader in delivering better quality health care to the most vulnerable Americans. I will fight against the Biden administration’s ability to take health care options away from Tennesseans.”

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