What are the next steps now that the block grant bill passed?

Posted at 7:39 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-13 16:20:16-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Since a bill to allow the state to ask the federal government for a lump sum to create a new healthcare system passed the legislature, what happens next?

First, the bill heads to Governor Bill Lee's desk. If he signs it, there are a number of other responsibilities that have to be met before the state can approach the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

If Lee signs it, there's 180 days on the clock to make the ask. The state wants more than $7.5 billion in a lump sum payment.

First, the governor and finance department will start writing the waiver. Then, there's a 30 day comment period where the state will receive input from the three division of the state.

Once that's done, the grant application will be forwarded to CMS in Washington D.C.

Then, if all goes well, CMS will set a meeting with Tenncare to negotiate the grant.

After that, lawmakers will have to again agree on the plan and how it would work in Tennessee.

Here's the problem with all of that, it's not even clear whether or not the administrative branch of the federal government has the authority to approve block grants.

According to an expert with Vanderbilt University, congress may contest that it's their power to make such decisions.

If all of those boxes are checked, the state can implement the new program.

The bill's senate sponsor said it's a chance to increase the amount of healthcare coverage in the state.

"Tenncare is at 100% of the poverty level as far as the amount that we receive from the federal government," said Senator Paul Bailey. "In this legislation, it would actually give Tenncare the ability to negotiate a higher percentage than 100% of the poverty level which could ultimately mean we could cover more Tennesseans."