Katie Beckett Waiver

   The General Assembly approved major legislation during the 2019 legislative session to expand TennCare coverage to in-home care for about 3,000 children with severe and medically complex disabilities whose parents’ incomes exceed current limits set for the program. Approximately $27 million was appropriated in the state budget to fund it. The legislation directs the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration to submit a waiver request to the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish a Katie Beckett Program in Tennessee, which is the only state that does not have a waiver or its equivalent.

   The program is named for a young girl who was diagnosed with a brain infection in 1978 at only five months old. Medicaid covered Katie’s hospitalization for almost three years after being diagnosed. However, once her parents and doctors decided she would receive better care at home, she was no longer eligible to receive Medicaid. President Ronald Reagan’s administration waived the rules to let Katie and children in similar situations receive care at home, while retaining their Medicaid coverage, regardless of their parents’ income. This gave rise to the Katie Beckett Program which created the opportunity for states to apply for a waiver, allowing them to use federal and state dollars to pay for in-home care. 

Medicaid Block Grant

   A new law was approved this year calling for Governor Bill Lee, through Tennessee’s Commissioner of Finance and Administration, to request a block grant waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to better serve recipients of the state’s TennCare program. The purpose is to provide the state an opportunity to develop an effective and innovative plan that is specific to the healthcare needs of all Tennesseans, while lowering costs and increasing access to patient-centered care. The block grant authorized may convert the federal share of all medical assistance funding for Tennessee into an allotment that is tailored to meet the needs of the state. The legislation also calls for federal funding of the block grant to remain without any decrease in the federal share of all medical assistance funding for Tennessee based on deflation or a reduction in population. The waiver does not take effect unless subsequently authorized by joint resolution of the General Assembly. 

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is every any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, concerns, and suggestions during the 111th General Assembly.

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