Washington, DC – As the COVID pandemic worsens and the economy continues to falter, Trump officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have been focused on Medicaid cuts in Tennessee. Today, CMS approved Tennessee’s request to limit federal funding for TennCare, the State’s Medicaid program, which provides health insurance coverage to over 1.5 million people. The approval allows the state to radically restructure the program, including limiting enrollee access to prescription drugs. The approval occurred despite overwhelming opposition to the proposal from patient advocacy and health care provider groups.
“For over 50 years, Medicaid has ensured that states have sufficient federal funding to provide health care to their low-income families, older adults, and persons with disabilities. The time-tested Medicaid funding structure guarantees that the federal government pays its share of a state’s health care spending,” said Leonardo Cuello, NHeLP’s Director of Health Policy. “This consistent funding is critical to support states in the face of rising health care costs, economic downturns, and health crises. Even as health care needs increase, the federal government continues to meet its funding commitment. Today’s approval undermines this federal commitment to Tennessee, and puts the state at risk of losing millions of dollars and Tennesseans at risk of losing health care services. It also decreases accountability for billions of dollars of federal health care funds.”
Jane Perkins, Legal Director for the National Health Law Program, also criticized the approval. “We are not surprised but are unsettled by this eleventh-hour action by the federal government during the height of the pandemic. The approval raises so many issues –from the process the government used to approve this project to the specifics of how the government has cut into the health care safety net. Our legal team is investigating the enforcement and litigation options at this time.”