Friday, May 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker today applauded a one year moratorium of a proposed change to the rules governing Medicaid program funding to states that would have forced significant cuts in services to Tennesseans. The Supplemental Appropriations bill that passed the Senate 80-14 on Thursday night included this key provision that would prevent implementation of the proposed rule for one year.
“This keeps the doors of important Tennessee hospitals open,” said Alexander, who – as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee – voted for the amendment that imposed the one-year moratorium during committee debate on the Supplemental Appropriations bill. “Blocking this proposed rule is great news for the health of thousands of Tennesseans. Although I would have preferred passing this provision as part of a different bill, I’m glad we were able to get it done.”

“I’ve had serious concerns about the impact the proposed rule would have on the accessibility and quality of health care Tennesseans receive,” Corker said. “I’m pleased that we have been successful in suspending any cuts for at least a year, and look forward to working with the administration on a more constructive way to move ahead.”

In March, the senators wrote a joint letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee expressing their concerns over the impact this particular proposal would have on 19 Tennessee hospitals, including 10 rural facilities, seven urban facilities and two safety net providers.

Under the proposed rule, only hospitals meeting a new definition of a “public” hospital would be eligible to use certified public expenditures (CPEs) that help states fund their Medicaid programs, which would have cut Medicaid funding to safety net providers in Tennessee. Based on analysis from the TennCare Bureau, which administers Tennessee’s Medicaid program, the proposed rule would cost Tennessee’s hospitals an estimated $1.3 billion over 5 years.

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