Thursday, June 21, 2018

TennCare Request Could Cut 600K from Planned Parenthood

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 11:04 AM

click to enlarge Planned Parenthood demonstrators - JACKSON BAKER
  • Jackson Baker
  • Planned Parenthood demonstrators

State officials have officially asked the federal government for permission to end TennCare payments to clinics that provide elective abortions.

In a notice filed last week, the state asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to allow the move, approved by state lawmakers this year. The public comment period on the proposal is open until July 13th and two public hearings are scheduled on the matter for tomorrow and Monday (more details below).

The request reads like a science experiment. Officially, it is a request to conduct a “demonstration project,” in which state health officials hope to demonstrate that by not allowing TennCare payments be made to such clinics, it ”will not have a negative impact on the state’s ability to ensure an adequate network of providers.” The request makes no mention of the health of TennCare recipients.

Officials with Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi (PPTNM) called the move “politically motivated” and ”dangerous.”

”This amendment blocks patients with low-incomes, who already face systemic barriers to care due to racist and discriminatory policies, from accessing critical care at Planned Parenthood in Tennessee,” reads a statement from the organization. “Governor [Bill] Haslam’s politically motivated agenda is dangerous to Tennesseans and will harm people in need of basic health care services.”

  • Planned Parenthood of Tennessee And North Mississippi/Facebook

PPTNM officials said the request would exclude at least 600,000 patients from getting care from their clinics and others like them. While those clinics do provide abortion services, they also provide birth control, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and more.

PPTNM and its advocates are planning “a full-scale effort to oppose Governor Haslam’s latest attack on patients with low-incomes.” They are hoping to pack the public hearings with supporters and to flood state officials with public comments.

In 2010, 56 percent of all pregnancies in Tennessee were unintended and in 2016, 53 percent of women who gave birth were TennCare or Medicaid recipients, according to PPTNM.

“This proposed waiver does nothing to improve the integrity and effectiveness of the Medicaid program for Tennesseans,” said Ashley Coffield, CEO of PPTNM. “The last thing Tennesseans need is to have their options for reproductive and sexual health care restricted by additional barriers such as the proposed waiver.”

Here's how to comment on the request:

TennCare is seeking feedback on Amendment 36 prior to its submission to CMS. Members of the public are invited to offer comments regarding Amendment 36 from June 13th, 2018, through July 13th, 2018.

Members of the public who wish to comment on the proposed amendment may do so through either of the following options:

• Comments may be sent by email to

• Comments may be mailed to: Dr. Wendy Long, Director Division of TennCare
310 Great Circle Road Nashville, TN 37243.

Individuals who wish to make their comments in person may attend either of the following events:

• A public hearing on June 22nd, 2018, at 3:00 p.m. CT in the Large Meeting Room of the Green Hills branch of the Nashville Public Library, 3701 Benham Avenue in Nashville.

• A public hearing on June 25th, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. CT in House Hearing Room II on the first floor of the Cordell Hull State Office Building, 425 5th Avenue North in Nashville.

Telephonic access to the June 25 hearing is available for those unable to attend in person. Individuals interested in this option must register by contacting Jonathan Reeve—no later than June 22nd at (615) 507-6449 or by email at

Individuals with disabilities or individuals with limited English proficiency who wish to participate in one or both hearings and who may require language or communication assistance to do so should contact Talley Olson of TennCare’s Office of Civil Rights Compliance by phone at (855) 857-1673 or by email at prior to the date of the hearing.

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