Senate Passes TennCare Work Requirement Bill

Senate Passes TennCare Work Requirement Bill”

While it doesn't change our view that a major expansion of Medicaid in Virginia is still a financially risky proposition, this latest dust-up shows how hard it will be for the two sides to reconcile their differences by the July 1 deadline.

The Tennessee Senate has passed a controversial bill that would require families who get healthcare help from TennCare to work, volunteer or go to school to keep getting their benefits.

Shirkey, the sponsor of the bill, said he is open to setting the work requirement at less than 29 hours per week.

There are exceptions and certain people who qualify for waivers - including for people with disabilities, their caretakers, and people who are pregnant.

The nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency estimates that the work requirement could affect a maximum of 1 million nonelderly, nondisabled adult Medicaid recipients but adds that estimate is "well in excess of the actual number of people" who would be impacted because of exemptions. They say it will cost the state too much to implement and leave too many people without health insurance. For example, those with children under six-years-old would be exempt.

Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro of Nashville unsuccessfully sought to amend the bill to have the state also seek federal approval to expand Medicaid to an estimated 180,000 working Tennesseans under the federal Affordable Care Act.

"I fundamentally believe that the right to health care should be protected for all our citizens".

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey joined more than two dozen fellow Democrats in a January letter that questioned the legality of the work requirements, arguing they "contradict the plain text and purpose" of relevant federal law.

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