With New Comment Period, CMS Will Reassess TennCare Cap

As the Biden administration continues to dash states’ dreams of implementing Medicaid work requirements — most recently revoking waiver approvals granted to Ohio, South Carolina and Utah by the Trump administration — CMS this month took a critical step in revisiting Tennessee’s plans to use a fixed funding mechanism. With the opening of a new 30-day federal public comment period regarding the approval of TennCare III, experts anticipate a great amount of negative input that will lead the program to a fate similar to that of work requirements.

The Trump administration on Jan. 8 approved Tennessee’s request to use an “aggregate cap” approach to Medicaid funding that many industry observers have likened to a block grant. The outgoing administration approved the state’s section 1115 waiver demonstration for 10 years. Through the unprecedented approach, Tennessee will receive federal Medicaid funds based on a fixed budget target that is determined by CMS and the state using historical enrollment and cost data. If the state spends less than its target cap while meeting yet-to-be determined quality goals, it can earn up to 55% of annual savings to reinvest back into other state health programs. That waiver also allows the state to implement a commercial-style closed drug formulary.

© 2021 MMIT

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues, including drug benefits and specialty pharmacy, for more than a decade. She served as editor of Drug Benefit News (the predecessor to Radar on Drug Benefits) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016, and now manages Radar on Medicare Advantage. Lauren graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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