Tennessee Legislators will be getting to work this week on a first in the nation Medicaid Block Grant Waiver for TennCare.
Senator Paul Bailey sponsored the original $8.6 billion Medicaid Block Grant Waiver in 2019. Bailey said the federal government accepted this waiver because of Tennessee’s track record of consistently saving money for Medicaid, by spending less.
He said it will allow the state to recoup about 50% of cost savings when it comes in under the federal spending cap. Bailey said getting this money back for TennCare will mean expanded services to Tennesseans who need it most.
“Covering those with mental health disabilities, making sure people have the pharmaceuticals that they truly need,” Bailey said. “At a cost that is good for TennCare recipients, as well as the state. Then third, being able to expand the program to other needy populations.”
Bailey said the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, accepted this waiver because of Tennessee’s spending track record. Tennessee covers 1/3 of the costs to operate TennCare. The $8.6 billion grant amount is based on 2019 expenditures and trending them forward.
“Tennessee has shown year over year over year, that we have been able to save millions of dollars for the Medicaid program,” Bailey said. “By doing so, what we’re hoping with this block grant is that we’ll be able to share in that cost savings that we’ve been doing for the federal government.”
Bailey said he anticipates the resolution will pass by the end of this week. He said this will not expand TennCare immediately, but expects expansion after about two to three years of cost savings.
“This will be a roll-in project, this will not just immediately take place,” Bailey said. “Remember TennCare is a multi-billion dollar program. So, it will be a roll-in service, we’re looking at a couple of years.”
Bailey said no Tennesseans will lose their TennCare if this block grant waiver goes into place. Tennessee successfully negotiated a 10-year waiver agreement with the federal government called TennCare III.