Budget proposal includes initiatives to modernize health care and make it more affordable

Governor Bill Lee announced several initiatives in his State of the State / Budget Address on Monday to modernize health care and make it more affordable.  This includes providing $11 million in new funds to serve thousands of additional vulnerable Tennesseans in the state’s Behavioral Health Safety Net and Regional Mental Institutes not covered by insurance.  It also provides $8.6 million to fund graduate medical education at Tennessee’s medical schools and critical incentive programs which provide financial support to resident physicians who commit to living and working in the state’s rural communities. 

The current workforce projections show Tennessee with a shortage of 1,050 doctors by 2025.

The budget also includes $11.9 million to support the pay of direct support personnel who care for some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens and $1 million to fund a second year of the Rural Hospital Transformation Act.  Both initiatives were a high priority of Senate Republicans last year. 

The 2018-2019 budget provided $11.7 million in non-recurring funds to raise the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) hourly reimbursement rate paid by the state for professionals who provide care for citizens with intellectual, developmental, and age-related disabilities.   The 2019-2020 budget proposes to continue support of that initiative.

The Rural Transformation Act helps struggling hospitals develop business plans to ensure they are financially viable and continue needed healthcare services.  It requires the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) to establish and manage a rural hospital transformation program to assess viability, identify new delivery models, develop strategic partnerships, and implement operational changes to help them succeed.

In addition, the budget proposes to crack down on expensive Medicaid fraud by expanding the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit with an additional 24 positions dedicated to identifying fraud and waste.

Finally, Gov. Lee is launching the Health Care Modernization Task Force to bring the private sector, policy makers, and communities together to develop reforms and improve the value of care for all Tennesseans. 

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