Tennessee lawmakers looking for permanent fix to funding problem

Tennessee lawmakers are asking federal officials to extend disproportionate share hospital funds so hospitals have the monies to help them care for low-income patients, according to a Chattanooga Times Free Press report.

State lawmakers are asking for the extension so funding is still available as they try to find a more permanent fix to the problem of Tennessee having to reapply annually for millions in DSH funds, the report reads.

Tennessee must reapply each year due to a 1994 waiver that created TennCare, Tennessee's Medicaid managed care program, making it the only state that must go through an annual renewal process to participate in DSH, according to the report. The report notes that the problem of having to reapply makes a significant impact on hospitals because the funding is crucial to their financial picture, and they never know if the funding will lapse, as it did last year at the time of the U.S. government shutdown.

The funds were brought back thanks to a "temporary federal administrative 'patch'" earlier this year, and now Tennessee lawmakers are trying to find a permanent fix in the next Congress so that a similar situation does not occur in the future, according to the report.

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