Lawmakers hit Medicaid block grant bill impasse

Capitol View
Posted at 8:20 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 21:37:55-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee's Republican-super majority Legislature is in a standoff over a proposal that would significantly change how the state provides health care to its lower-income and disabled residents.

As the months long session neared the finish line Thursday, a panel of the House and Senate negotiators couldn't come to terms on the bill that would require the state's top leaders to call on the federal government to send a fixed amount of money each year in the form of block grants. Both chambers previously passed different versions.

House members voted 5-0 to reject a negotiated version of the bill, putting the legislation in limbo. It's unclear what further negotiations might occur. Republican Rep. Matthew Hill said the compromised version did not offer enough flexibility for the state.

Supporters argue block grants would allow Tennessee to better manage its Medicaid program. Critics counter they open up opportunities to cut services.

Currently, the federal government pays an agreed-upon percentage of each state's Medicaid costs, no matter how much they rise in any given year.

Tennessee receives approximately $7.5 billion in federal money for its $12.1 billion Medicaid program.