TennCare

While the number of people in Tennessee buying health insurance through new exchanges has been slow, state officials say the number of people being directed to the state's expanded Medicaid program is more than they expected.

So far, about 1,000 people have purchased health insurance throughout the state.

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Would Jesus expand Tennessee’s Medicaid program? That’s the question a left-leaning clergy group is asking the General Assembly, and they believe the answer is yes.

Pastors and priests delivered baskets of bread loaves and paper fish to each legislator. The attempted biblical parallel is to the miracle of feeding the 5,000.

Governor Bill Haslam is saying there’s still a chance to expand TennCare and cover more of the state’s uninsured. Last week, Haslam effectively turned down billions of dollars in federal money to expand Tennessee’s Medicaid program. But after talking with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over the weekend, he says the federal agency is sounding more receptive to his demands.

Tennessee isn’t saying “yes” to expanding the state’s Medicaid program known as TennCare. But it’s not saying “no” either. Gov. Bill Haslam made the announcement this morning to a joint assembly of the legislature, telling lawmakers he’s been working toward a “third option.”

“To leverage the federal dollars available to our state to transform health care in Tennessee without expanding our TennCare rolls,” he said.

A federal appeals court has struck down a significant portion of the $2.5 million in legal fees awarded to attorneys who have represented TennCare patients in a year-long fight with Tennessee.

Previous naysayers are coming around to the idea of expanding Tennessee’s Medicaid Program. Even while criticizing the Affordable Care Act, they say pulling more poor people into TennCare could have some upsides.

Lawmakers in Tennessee are watching Florida closely after the state’s conservative Republican governor went along with a major piece of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Bill Haslam is still on the fence about expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare.

A measure that would allow Tennessee to approach Congress about forming its own health care system has failed this year. The proposal sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon failed with a 9 - 9 House Insurance and Banking Committee vote Tuesday.

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The state’s hospitals are playing out the “what if’s” as lawmakers consider whether to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care overhaul. Their study says 90,000 Tennessee jobs could be lost if the expansion does not occur.

Doctors who treat TennCare patients will get a New Year's pay raise.  Practitioners in family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics or a related subspecialty are now going to be reimbursed at Medicare rates, more than 25 percent above what they were being paid.  TennCare officials say the boost will give qualifying Tennessee doctors an extra $55 million over the next two years.

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