Tennessee's Response to the Feds' Letter on Medicaid Backlogs

July 15, 2014 AT 12:00 PM

Although TennCare Director Darin Gordon blamed a federal website for the hurdles Tennesseans face applying for Medicaid, the agency will take some correction actions demanded by a federal official.

The state agency will enable hospitals to temporarily enroll pregnant women in Medicaid. It will take actions to keep newborns and children who qualify for coverage from falling through the cracks. And TennCare will hire a consulting firm to analyze the problems with its behind-schedule $35.7 million computer system.

However, it will not provide face-to-face help for people trying to apply for coverage through the state Medicaid system and will, instead, continue sending people to the federal Health Insurance Marketplace to do that.

"A small percentage of applicants have had difficulty completing the enrollment process, but almost all of those problems have been the result of flaws in the federal government's healthcare.gov website," Gordon wrote in his letter to the federal official that accompanied TennCare's corrective measures.

Cindy Mann, the federal director of Medicaid programs, had given TennCare 10 business days to respond to the concerns in a June 27 letter. She put TennCare on notice that it had failed to provide services for people as required by federal law.

The computer system is the crux of the problems, but Mann noted that Tennessee had stopped providing people with face-to-face help in applying for Medicaid and had no systems for hospitals to temporarily enroll pregnant women who probably qualify for coverage.

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