Tennessee becomes first state to introduce Medicaid block grant plan
Tennessee on Tuesday released its plan to transform its Medicaid program into a block grant, marking the most aggressive red-state Medicaid reform proposal yet, reports the Washington Post.
Why it matters, per Axios' Bob Herman: If Tennessee garners federal approval on a policy to cut Medicaid funds — and survives the subsequent lawsuits it'd surely face — it would encourage other conservative states to do the same. This would be a radical change to the medical safety net for the nation's poorest citizens.
The big picture: While converting Medicaid into block grants has long been a goal of conservatives, Republicans were unable to make the change federally in 2017 as part of their Affordable Care Act repeal effort.
- The state waiver process tees up a test of how far the Trump administration will go to promote state flexibility, and whether current law will allow such a radical change.
Red state attempts to add work requirements to Medicaid have so far run into road blocks in court.
Block grants allow the federal government to give states a lump sum annually to cover Medicaid costs without having to abide by some of the rules.
- As it stands, the plan would impact more than 1 million of the 1.4 million residents using TennCare, the state's Medicaid program, per the Washington Post.
- The plan wouldn't change coverage of prescription drugs and payments to hospitals that treat low-income patients.