Tennessee is pursuing a variant of a block grant for Medicaid (although it’s not strictly a block grant but more on that in a second.) Brett Kelman has been covering it for the Tennesseean. Much of his work is behind a paywall so we can’t share all of it (here’s one good ungated sample).
We did want to draw attention to what’s going on in Tennessee and point you to an epic Kelman Twitter thread that shed light on his reporting, shows the value of old-fashioned legwork (or in this case, a cyber-variant), and even made Medicaid news an awful lot of fun to read. Continue reading
Tennessee may become the first state in the country to take advantage of the Trump administration’s enthusiasm for block-granting Medicaid – a radical change to the federal-state health program for low-income people created in 1965.
Under recently passed legislation, Tennessee will within six months seek a waiver from CMS to have a block grant – a lump sum of money along with more state flexibility on how to run Medicaid. Continue reading
President Trump says he wants to encourage the formation of “association health plans” that would better enable small employers to band together to purchase more affordable health insurance in the large-group market. On Jan. 4, the Department of Labor published for public comment a proposed rule for such entities, also known as small business health plans.
What will these health plans, which typically would organize under the umbrella of a trade group or other association, look like? Continue reading
Photo: Don via FlickrNashville cemetery statue
Last week we posted an update on mental health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, so let’s follow up with a look at what’s going on in Tennessee, courtesy of Holly Fletcher at The Tennessean.
Tennessee is among the 19 states that have not taken up Medicaid expansion under the ACA. This summer a Tennessee legislative task force put forth a proposal for a partial expansion program, with the first stage focusing in large part on people with mental illness or substance abuse disorders. If approved – which isn’t certain – it could later be expanded, but only if it meets cost and quality objectives. As Fletcher reported, that’s not so easy. Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, last year tried to enact a market-based version, only to be blocked by a more conservative legislature, as one commentator noted in the newspaper. Continue reading
In The Tennessean (and USA Today), Tom Wilemon has assembled a series of reports on what he calls “the diabetes hot zone,” “a cluster of predominantly African-American, inner-city neighborhoods where diabetes rates soar to more than double the Davidson County average.”
After establishing the outlines and perils of the hot zone in his first piece, Wilemon follows up by looking into the scarcity of transplants and pervasiveness of dialysis in the area.
Although organ transplants can occur between races, matches are more difficult to achieve for blacks. Transplant recipients must have similar genes in their immune systems to those of the donor. Otherwise, the body will reject the organ.
Whites account for 68 percent of all organ donors, while African-Americans account for only 14 percent, according to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Although the number of blacks and whites waiting for a kidney in 2011 was about the same, whites received just over half of kidney transplants that year, while blacks received less than a third.
Finally, he examines the causes of the diabetes epidemic and, in the process, wading deep into the “soul food” versus “fast food” debate.
Wilemon is a 2012-13 AHCJ Regional Health Journalism Fellow and wrote this story with support from USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism.