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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

1 min ago - Podcasts

Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing two emergency use authorization requests for COVID-19 vaccines, with an outside advisory committee scheduled to meet next Thursday to review data from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Axios Re:Cap digs in with former FDA commissioner Rob Calif about the EUA process, the science and who should make the final call.

The recovery needs rocket fuel

Data: BLS. Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's deeply disappointing jobs report should light a fire under Congress, which has dithered despite signs the economy is struggling to kick back into gear.

Driving the news: President-elect Biden said Friday afternoon in Wilmington that he supports another round of $1,200 checks.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.