Tennessee Republicans Push for Medicaid Block Grants

Tennessee lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a measure that seeks a fixed amount of federal block grants to provide health care to lower-income and disabled residents, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Under current law, Medicaid reimburses the state a fixed percentage on its Medicaid costs, with Tennessee receiving approximately $7.5 billion in federal money for its $12.1 billion Medicaid program, which state Republicans say gives little incentive to keep expenses under control because no state pays more than half the total cost, whereas the new bill — HB1280/SB1428 — would “convert the federal share of all medical assistance funding for this state into an allotment that is tailored to meet the needs of this state and that is indexed for inflation and population growth.” Though lawmakers remain optimistic regarding the advancement of the legislation, it is unclear whether Gov. Bill Lee will support the measure, given his opposition to Medicaid expansion and insistence on finding an alternative option to aid the estimated 167,000 Tennesseans without health coverage.

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