Tennessee will seek approval to use Medicaid block grant

Tennessee is poised to be the first state to ask the federal government to approve a plan for a Medicaid block grant, according to Politico.

State Republican lawmakers on May 2 signed off on a bill requiring the state to submit its plan to President Donald Trump's administration within six months, the Politico report reads. A spokesperson told the publication Gov. Bill Lee will sign the bill.

Medicaid, as an open-ended entitlement, has historically not had large restrictions as far as the amount of money states receive from the federal government amid rising costs, Politico notes. But the federal government announced in January that it was working on a plan to allow states to receive fixed block grants for Medicaid spending. In exchange for these grants, the administration has promised states more flexibility with Medicaid programs.

It's unclear whether Tennessee's plan — which would affect children, pregnant women, impoverished seniors in nursing homes and disabled people — would be approved.

The federal government  reportedly has been studying whether it can legally allow states to use Medicaid block grants, and Democratic lawmakers have indicated they will challenge any approved block grants.

Conservatives have suggested a Medicaid block grant program for years, and the issue was discussed in 2017 amid Republican efforts to repeal the ACA.

Republicans have argued that block grants would allow states to better manage their Medicaid programs if they received predetermined funding and greater flexibility in setting eligibility and benefit rules, according to Politico.

Critics, however, have reportedly argued that Medicaid block grants could result in significant cutbacks in insurance coverage for low-income people.

Read Politico's full report here.

 

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