Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TennCare expects to delay most cuts for a year

Funding reprieve fills budget gap By Chas Sisk • THE TENNESSEAN • April 20, 2010 TennCare officials say they would likely delay most of the cuts to the state's Medicaid program proposed earlier this year, but said Monday the reprieve would only be temporary unless lawmakers find new ways to fund it. "It's important not to lose focus on this," said Scott Pierce, TennCare's chief financial officer. "We'll be back here next year talking about these same issues." Officials told lawmakers Monday that a "coverage assessment" proposed by the Tennessee Hospital Association would raise about $203 million — enough money to put off most of their plans to cap benefits for TennCare recipients. The assessment follows a decision in February to let TennCare keep $121 million in money that the state owes the federal government for Medicare prescription drug coverage. TennCare had proposed $430 million in cuts in state spending during the upcoming budget year. Those cuts would have included a $10,000 cap on TennCare recipients' inpatient hospitalization coverage, a reduction in reimbursement payments for hospitals and doctors, and limits on office visits, outpatient visits, lab tests and X-rays. In a presentation to the legislature's TennCare Oversight Committee on Monday, officials said they have covered all but $106 million of the program's state budget gap. Administration officials are reviewing ways to fill the rest of that gap, TennCare administrator Darin Gordon said.

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