Tennessee healthcare providers get a first look at Gov. Bill Lee's priorities

Category: Tennessee, Bill Lee, healthcare

Tennessee healthcare providers get a first look at Gov. Bill Lee's priorities


Listen to Gov. Lee's comments on healthcare.

Earlier this week, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee delivered his first State of the State, which included a number of proposals that could impact healthcare in Tennessee:

  • Healthcare Modernization Task Force – Gov. Lee tasked Finance and Administration Commissioner Stuart McWhorter with establishing and chairing a task force that will “work closely with private sector stakeholders, policymakers and communities across the state to develop a list of reforms and critical investments.”
  • Waiver Requests – The state will look for “waiver opportunities” with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in order to “increase insurance coverage without big government strings attached.”
  • Medicaid Fraud Control Unit – In order to tackle fraud in the state’s Medicaid system, the state would create 24 positions in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the interagency task force that coordinates investigations and enforcement actions against healthcare providers.
  • Rural Healthcare – Acknowledging the closure of rural hospitals in the state, Gov. Lee unveiled a $20 million proposal “to boost broadband accessibility which will make technology like telemedicine more accessible and practical.”
  • Behavioral Health – Gov. Lee proposed an additional $11 million in recurring funds to support a “Behavioral Health Safety Net and our Regional Mental Health Institutes.”
  • Increased Funding – As a way to expand access to uninsured Tennesseans, Gov. Lee pledged to provide “additional funding to our health care safety net which supports community and faith-based centers.”

So what does this mean for Tennessee healthcare providers?

Interested stakeholders should seek opportunities to engage through their representatives with the Healthcare Modernization Task Force.

The proposed increases in funding will inject capital into behavioral health and care for the uninsured, which could lead to increased reimbursement for providers or reduce the strain on existing providers who provide charity care to these populations.

The $20 million broadband proposal is in line with the state’s overall shift towards adopting telemedicine throughout the state, as we discussed in our previous blog post on Tennessee’s implementation of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

Finally, providers will likely see an uptick in enforcement efforts from the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

It is worth noting that the above proposals are largely just that – proposals – and Governor Lee’s priorities will be subject to the competing viewpoints of the Tennessee Legislature, oversight agencies and myriad other constituencies. That means the final budget might look very different than what is outlined above.

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