(NASHVILLE) State Rep. Charlie Baum, R-Murfreesboro, has filed legislation that would expand TennCare eligibility on a temporary and limited basis.
House Bill 1087 would extend TennCare benefits on a temporary basis to Tennesseans who do not have an individual or family income that is greater than 138 percent of the federal poverty level and who are not currently eligible for medical assistance through the TennCare program.
“These are individuals who do not currently qualify for TennCare coverage but who still need assistance,” Baum said. “This legislation would help those struggling Tennesseans get back on their feet without creating a chronic dependency on the government.”
The expanded benefits would be provided with time limits to qualifying individuals. The time limits would permit those eligible under this expansion to receive benefits for no more than 12 months within a two-year period, and for no more than 60 total months during their lifetime, according to the legislation. The time limits would be paused if a recipient became enrolled in the regular medical assistance, CoverKids or a successor program.
“We saw many Tennesseans become eligible for TennCare as a result of the pandemic,” Baum said. “Without an expansion offering temporary benefits like this, some could lose access to the medical benefits they need.”
If passed, the legislation would only take effect if the federal government agreed to cover 90 percent of the costs associated with the expansion. The state would be responsible for the remaining 10 percent, which is typical of Medicaid expansions in other states.
The bill would also not make any changes to the state’s TennCare block grant program that was approved by the Trump administration in January 2021.
TennCare is the state of Tennessee’s Medicaid program that provides health care for approximately 1.7 million Tennesseans and operates with an annual budget of approximately $14 billion. TennCare members are primarily low-income pregnant women, children and individuals who are elderly or have a disability.
Charlie Baum represents House District 37, which includes part of Rutherford County. He serves as vice-chairman of the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. He is also a member of the Education Administration and Joint Pensions committees along with Appropriations Subcommittee, Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee and the Higher Education Subcommittee.