Seven hospital systems and a large physician group in Tennessee are seeking to intervene in a federal court's upcoming review of a major overhaul to TennCare, the state's expansive and financially challenged Medicaid program. A hearing has been scheduled for later this month in U.S. District Court in Nashville on changes proposed by Gov. Phil Bredesen. The court has jurisdiction over TennCare based on a consent decree that settled an earlier lawsuit by patient advocates. The providers support Bredesen's proposal to cut costs by setting limits on physician visits and prescriptions and by dropping coverage for some adults who aren't eligible for Medicaid, while maintaining enrollment for children.
"Unless reform is enacted, the entire TennCare system is in jeopardy," said Gary Miller, senior vice president of legal affairs at one of the providers, Wellmont Health System, Kingsport. The other providers are: Erlanger Health System, Chattanooga; Nashville General Hospital at Meharry; Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., Methodist Healthcare, Regional Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital, all in Memphis; and UT Medical Group, the private-practice physicians group at University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Knoxville. -- by Vince Galloro