Sundquist Asks for Legislative Direction on TennCare Reorganization
On Dec. 14, Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist (R) made a rare direct address to state lawmakers, saying they have to decide "quickly" whether to support restructuring TennCare, the state's Medicaid managed care program, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. With TennCare's federal waiver set to expire at the end of 2001, Sundquist's administration must decide to how reorganize the program -- which has been "plagued" by management problems, underfunding, and MCOs failure to pay providers on time -- to secure federal approval. "Making his case for keeping" the program, Sundquist said, "We can move forward with TennCare and turn it into an accountable, well-managed and effective health care solution for Tennessee, or we can let the TennCare waiver expire and turn instead to a managed care version of Medicaid that continues to insure Tennessee's children but drops 350,000 working adults." In his speech, Sundquist "made it clear" that he would not reinstate Medicaid as a fee-for-service program and that he would "reject" any program that excluded coverage for uninsured children. Sundquist credited TennCare with recent improvements in infant mortality, childhood asthma, emergency room overuse and access to preventive care. He also pointed out that the program "saved the state an estimated $2.5 billion" and provided coverage to 500,000 previously uninsured residents. In addition, SundquThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.