Tag Archives: medicaid

3-Star Healthy draft to be submitted soon

Rep. Cameron Sexton, chairman of the 3-Star Healthy task force, says the group expects to submit a draft TennCare expansion pilot proposal to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a week and he’s optimistic about approval, reports The Tennessean.

In a meeting Monday at Tennessee Tower, presenters with expertise in telehealth and a specific workforce training program called “individual placement and support” told task force members and interested health care officials about how the initiatives could bolster the TennCare expansion proposal as well as existing programs. Continue reading

Lamar says Republicans need to make a deal on Obamacare

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says that his work with Democrats in an overhaul of the federal No Child Left Behind law could be a model for an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and that’s something Republicans need to address next year. So reports Politico.
“Whoever the president is in January, we’re going to have to take a good, hard look at Obamacare,” Alexander told Politico. “I don’t think Republicans can go another four years, whether we have a Republican president or not, and say, ‘Just give us a couple more Republicans and we’ll repeal Obamacare.’ ”

The Republican lawmaker says his own committee’s bipartisan work on the No Child Left Behind education bill created a clear template for finding common ground on health care. That sweeping overhaul of a 14-year-old education law passed with bipartisan support last year. President Barack Obama himself called it a “Christmas miracle.”

“One reason I’ve enjoyed working with Patty Murray, the senior Democrat on the (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee is that she’s results-oriented,” Alexander says. “We can focus on the 80 percent we agree with and fight about the 20 percent another day.”

But Obama hasn’t proved to be a good partner on health care, Alexander maintained. He’s hoping that the next president — whoever he or she may be — will be more receptive.

“Hillary Clinton is married to a fellow who made a lot of deals as president,” Alexander said. “And if she shows an aptitude for taking a position, listening to other people and looking for the 80 percent instead of the 20 — or if Mr. Trump does, if he’s the president — then we can improve the health care system.”

Harwell task force presents Medicaid plan to feds (press release)

News release from House Republican Caucus
(NASHVILLE) — Earlier today, members of the ‘3-Star Healthy Taskforce’ and TennCare met with representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to discuss the Taskforce’s proposal to close the insurance coverage gap in Tennessee.

“We feel that today’s meeting was a significant step forward in achieving the Taskforce’s stated goal of presenting a plan to the legislature that improves access to healthcare and closes the insurance coverage gap,” said Representative Matthew Hill.

“This conservative and measured approach of focusing on behavioral health, mental illness and substance abuse, and uninsured veterans is one of the most significant steps forward for healthcare in Tennessee,” continued Chairman Cameron Sexton. “This patient population has been underserved in the State of Tennessee for generations.”

The grey paper presented to CMS pursues a different direction than Insure Tennessee and details a two-phase approach the Taskforce is seeking for approval. Continue reading

Sunday column: Harwell’s walk down a political tight rope

The political weather has become uncomfortably hot and humid for House Speaker Beth Harwell this summer with criticism of her acrobatic performances on the Insure Tennessee issue and the Rep. Jeremy Durham affair.

The heat comes from both ends of the political spectrum. You can currently find some folks speculating that Harwell’s balancing acts in these two awkward situations not only jeopardize her tentative plans to run for governor in 2018, but could also threaten her re-election as speaker in January and maybe even re-election to her House seat this fall.

Minority Democrats have uniformly bashed Harwell’s stance on Insure Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam’s failed attempt to expand Medicaid coverage in Tennessee — first for dodging an embrace of the plan and, more recently, for setting up a task force, christened the “3-Star Healthy Project,” to find some less comprehensive alternative that Obamacare-hating Republicans could support in the 2017 session.

Derisive Democrats have heaped scorn upon the effort, using labels such as “political cover,” “fig leaf” or, at best, “tinkering around the edges.” There are even skeptical Republicans, some of whom suggest the move is motivated by Harwell’s need to shore up her own re-election to a Nashville House district that, while designed to tilt Republican, does have a significant contingent of Democrats. She actually has a couple of Democrats competing for the nomination to oppose her in November and they’re making Insure Tennessee a campaign issue. Continue reading

Harwell to study health care via task force; Democrats howl

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell on Tuesday touted a new initiative to improve health care access in the state, but Democrats quickly derided it as an election-year “charade” to deflect criticism of lawmakers who rejected the governor’s Insure Tennessee proposal.

Harwell said she began talking with health policy experts at Vanderbilt University’s medical school to come up with alternatives last year after lawmakers rejected Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans.

Harwell, R-Nashville, has dubbed her initiative the “3-Star Healthy Project,” and said it will tap conservative ideas like encouraging greater responsibility for enrollees; create health savings accounts funded by co-payments; and provide more support for people trying to rejoin the workforce.

She is a creating task force to propose ways to improve access to health care in Tennessee. Harwell said the four Republican House members she has appointed to the task force will work to come up with a specific proposal to make to the federal government as early as June, though the plan could require lawmaker approval next year.

Democrats called the announcement an attempt to give Republicans political cover for rejecting Insure Tennessee.

“This is simply designed to give the false impression that the House Republican leadership is willing to do anything about health care,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville. “It’s clearly not. This is a charade, it’s an effort to delay, and to not simply pass Gov. Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan.

“It’s pathetic,” Stewart said.
Continue reading

Wendy Long named new TennCare director

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Dr. Wendy Long will become the director of TennCare and deputy commissioner of Health Care Finance and Administration (HCFA).

Long will replace Darin Gordon, who is leaving at the end of June after 10 years as TennCare director. She has served as deputy director and chief of staff of the Health Care Finance and Administration division of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration since 2013.  Long served as chief medical officer for TennCare from 2004-2012.

“We are fortunate to have someone with such a depth of experience working in TennCare to take on this assignment,” Haslam said. “TennCare is among the best managed Medicaid programs in the nation, and this move will help us maintain that performance. Tennesseans can have great confidence in Dr. Long in this important position.”

Started in 1994, TennCare is the state’s Medicaid program, a $10.5 billion health care enterprise that provides services to nearly 1.5 million Tennesseans. In her role as deputy director of HCFA, Long has provided leadership to all areas of its operation including oversight of contracts with TennCare’s network of managed care companies.

“I am honored that Gov. Haslam asked me to serve in this role,” Long said. “My tenure as TennCare’s deputy director has provided invaluable experience and I am grateful for this leadership opportunity. The dedicated staff at Health Care Finance and Administration are an exceptional group of public servants and I look forward to our continued efforts to promote the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective care for the citizens of Tennessee.”

Prior to becoming TennCare’s chief medical officer in 2004, Long held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility at the Tennessee Department of Health including assistant commissioner and medical director for the Bureau of Health Services.  Long also has previous TennCare experience having served as medical director from 1997-1999 and as interim director from March 1998-January 1999.

Long received her undergraduate and medical degrees from Ohio State University and completed a preventive medicine residency and master of public health program at the University of South Carolina.

Long and her husband, Rick, have two grown children, Brian and Lindsey.

Hospitals plan post-election push for Insure Tennessee

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Hospital Association, a key supporter of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s unsuccessful effort to expand Medicaid in the state, is planning a new push to pass the measure once this year’s presidential election is over.

The members of the hospital group had pledged to cover the entire $74 million state share of Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal, which would have drawn down $2.8 billion in federal Medicaid funds over two years.

But Republican lawmakers rejected Haslam’s plan last year amid fears that it was too closely linked to President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

THA President Craig Becker said the group is spending about $400,000 to found a nonprofit called Tennesseans for a Responsible Future that is aimed at gathering support for passing the measure once Obama leaves office next year.

“It really is to kind of offset some of the misconceptions and certainly to educate our legislators to what Insure Tennessee is and what it isn’t,” Becker said. “And what it isn’t is Obamacare.”
Continue reading

Haslam: Insure TN is still dead

Gov. Bill Haslam says gestures of support for Insure Tennessee since the last legislative session – including resolutions approved by city councils in Chattanooga and Knoxville recently – haven’t changed the hearts and minds of Republican state legislators. So he has no intention of trying for passage of the modified Medicaid expansion plan in 2016.

Gubernatorial quote from the Times-Free Press:

“There’s been a statewide effort to rally the cause, but I haven’t noticed a changing public opinion and definitely haven’t seen a change in our legislature.”

“My sense is there will be a lot of people waiting to see what happens in the ’16 presidential election — just, again, to be as honest as I can — before they’ll do that,” Haslam said. “We would still love it to happen. We still think it’s the right thing to do. Nothing I’ve seen since then (the 2015 session) has changed my mind.”

DNC chair at Jackson Day: ‘Tea party extremists’ may boost TN Democrats

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Pursuing Medicaid expansion in Tennessee was among the most popular ideas for reviving state Democrats’ prospects during the party’s annual fundraiser Friday night.

Organizers said more than 500 elected officials, supporters and contributors attended the party’s annual Jackson Day fundraiser in Nashville.

The event was headlined by Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. She said the failure of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal to extend health care to 280,000 low income people was an example of the failure of GOP politics in the state.

“Their party is so strangled by the tea party extremists, that even their Republican governor has not been able to get that done,” she said before the event.

During her speech she criticized Republican Tennessee Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black — whose mention was roundly booed by the crowd — for joining what she called the “farcical” House committee to investigate Planned Parenthood.

“It is a real disappointment for women’s health and our health rights in America,” she said.
Continue reading

Harwell: Legislature will ‘re-visit’ Insure TN

House Speaker Beth Harwell said Monday that the state legislature likely will revisit Medicaid expansion in January but lawmakers still have major concerns that likely will keep it from passing, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Harwell said she believes Gov. Bill Haslam is leaning toward not asking the legislature in 2016 to approve the state’s first gasoline tax hike in 26 years, although he toured the state this summer outlining the need for more transportation funding.

But she thinks his Medicaid expansion plan, Insure Tennessee, may get another look. “I think we will revisit heath care again. I’m not telling you that Insure Tennessee has some magic bullet to be passed this year but I do think there will be continued discussion.”

Harwell said Republicans… have “legitimate concerns and I think if we’re going to see something passed, we’re going to have to address them.”

She said those concerns include caps on enrollment in the expansion program, designed under the federal Affordable Care Act to cover more uninsured working poor. “We were told it would be a program for about 280,000. The reality is there are about 400,000 people who qualify,” she said.

…And the speaker said that while Tennessee hospitals heavily support Medicaid expansion because they will benefit financially, many doctors in her district called her in opposition.

“I would have liked to have seen a disenrollment plan on the front end, with some kind of safety net built in because you can’t take (coverage) away from people without a transition plan. I think what would be palatable to a supermajority is if this were given to us in a block grant and we could devise a program the way we wanted without federal strings attached. I do think we could, given the expertise in health care in Nashville and Memphis, we could design a program that would be more cost effective.”