Class-ac­tion suit filed over Tenn. Med­i­caid back­log

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Beth Kutscher

Ten­nessee res­i­dents who faced lengthy de­lays when they ap­plied for Med­i­caid are now su­ing the state for fail­ing to process their ap­pli­ca­tions in a timely man­ner.

The law­suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Nashville, claims that the back­log de­vel­oped when the state be­gan re­quir­ing res­i­dents to ap­ply for the Ten­nCare pro­gram through the fed­eral health in­sur­ance mar­ket­place Health­, which was not de­signed to process Med­i­caid ap­pli­ca­tions.

The class-ac­tion suit is backed by the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, the Na­tional Health Law Pro­gram and the Ten­nessee Jus­tice Cen­ter. The or­ga­ni­za­tions filed the suit on be­half of res­i­dents they say have been left with­out cov­er­age be­cause of the pro­cess­ing lag.

A spokes­woman for the Ten­nCare pro­gram said the agency did not see the suit un­til it was re­leased to the me­dia and could not com­ment.

The prob­lems be­gan Jan. 1, when lo­cal health de­part­ment of­fices stopped ac­cept­ing Med­i­caid ap­pli­ca­tions and be­gan di­rect­ing pa­tients to the fed­eral ex­change, said Sam Brooke, staff at­tor­ney at the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter. Although he stopped short of say­ing the state made the move to op­pose Oba­macare’s im­ple­men­ta­tion, he said many South­ern states have put up sig­nif­i­cant re­sis­tance to the Af­ford­able Care Act.

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