The state will decrease the amount it pays doctors to see TennCare patients by 7% next year. It’s an effort to make up for the growing budget deficit. Governor Phil Bredesen says the cuts could cause additional problems if a health care overhaul opens TennCare enrollment to thousands of the uninsured.
The Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill would make Medicaid programs like TennCare available to more people. But Governor Bredesen says doctors may refuse to see so many patients at the more discounted rate.
“If too many of them were to drop out in some way or say ‘we won’t see TennCare patients,’ then I’ve got a problem.”
Even with the cuts next year, Tennessee will remain above the national average in what it pays doctors to treat Medicaid patients.
Bredesen’s concern is the latest in his push to see that Congress doesn’t pass the cost of health care overhaul to the states. Under the Senate Finance bill, the cost of expanding TennCare enrollment minus the projected savings could total an estimated $735 million over five years. Bredesen says that would put the next governor in a “difficult position.”