The Senate unanimously passed March 10 a bill by Sen. Charlotte Burks of Monterey to require greater disclosure of proposed TennCare changes to state lawmakers.

“TennCare changes affect many residents in my district. Lawmakers need to know about proposed coverage changes as soon as possible, because I want to be able to inform the people I serve,” Burks said.

The bill (SB1788/HB0219) requires the Bureau of TennCare to notify the General Assembly by e-mail of any proposal that affects at least 250 Tennesseans or proposes a change in spending of at least $1 million.

TennCare is projected to cost $6.8 billion in the coming year, or nearly a fourth of the state’s total budget. The proposed budget would cut approximately $200 million from TennCare and impose new restrictions on the 1.2 million Tennesseans covered by the program, including a $10,000 cap for hospital stays and no reimbursements for physical, speech and occupational therapy.

Sen. Burks has received countless calls from Tennesseans concerned about the cost of TennCare as well as those who have recently lost or are losing their health care coverage. In addition, many want to know how they will be affected by proposed TennCare changes. This bill will keep lawmakers better informed of all major changes, so they in turn can help the citizens they serve.

“We must require an additional level of openness from TennCare, one of the most expensive and vital programs we have in the state,” Burks said. “This bill helps inform taxpayers, health care providers and those whose lives depend on having health care.”

The bill is scheduled to go to the state House of Representatives on Monday for consideration of an amendment, but should soon go to Gov. Phil Bredesen for his signature.

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Senator Charlotte Burks represents Cumberland, Jackson, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White counties. Contact her at sen.charlotte.burks@capitol.tn.gov or (615) 741-3978 or 301 War Memorial Building, Nashville, TN 37243-0215.