Many scenarios for TennCare enrollees under DC health care plan

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Could Tennessee children lose coverage under Washington’s health care plan, or might state lawmakers prevent that if given more flexibility?

They are just two of the very different ways Tennesseans look at the new health care plan coming up soon for a vote in Washington.

With every single state lawmaker having at least thousands of TennCare enrollees in their individual districts, they are paying attention to what is happening in the nation’s capital and a vote on the new plan looms next week.

There are dire predictions for what may happen in some corners.

“You are going to have to cut either babies or seniors,” Michele Johnson of the Tennessee Justice Center bluntly said.

Johnson leads an advocacy group for the nearly 1.5 million Tennesseans on the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare.

Half of the state’s children are on TennCare, as are some low-income seniors in care facilities.

Johnson argues the senate health care plan means $500 million less for TennCare per year from the federal government.

“They are passing on the cuts and the cost to a state like Tennessee, which is very poor,” added Johnson. “But they are also passing on the consequences to our state legislators and our governor.”

Just as blunt is Tennessee House Republican Leader Glen Casada, but with a different viewpoint.

“We can do what the federal government cannot,” he told News 2.

Those political consequences and potential cuts can be handled, Rep. Casada said.

He said the state can do better with covering people with the Medicaid money if given flexibility from federal rules now governing it.

“I think the U-Senate and the president have smartly said how do we delete the redundancy, the bureaucracy and yet provide a good coverage– and the answer is give it back to the states,” added the top Republican lawmaker.

Helping figure that out falls first on Tennessee’s skeptical Republican governor.

“If you are going to push down the cost control responsibility to the states, which is what the senate plan does, you have to give us the flexibility to do that and so far we are not confident the plan does that,” the governor told News 2 earlier in the week.