Report: Tennessee Health Care Department Takes Bigger Chunk of Federal Taxpayer Money Than Other Agencies

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The Tennessee Department of Health Care Finance and Administration took in more federal taxpayer money than any other state agency in 2018, a sum of $7.2 billion, according to a report Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

In 2017 that same department took in less federal taxpayer money, a sum of nearly $6.9 billion, said spokeswoman Sarah Tanksley.

But the amount of federal money the same department takes in will likely decrease next year, Tanksley went on to say in an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star.

“Under current federal law, Medicaid is financed on a matching basis. The rate at which the federal government will match state dollars is based on the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage. In TN the ratio is approximately 65 percent federal dollars and 35 percent state dollars,” Tanksley wrote.

“As mentioned in several budget hearings during the most recent legislative session, in FY2020 we anticipate that federal match rate will decrease by approximately 0.48 percent, which will result in a decrease in federal funding of approximately $42.1 million.  Our federal match rate is declining because of a federal formula based on state’s average per capita income. Tennessee’s per capita income has increased relative to other states in recent years, and so our federal match rate is declining.”

Tanksley said other programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program, receive funding on a matching basis but at a different rate.

“In addition, there are federally required IT implementation systems that the state of TN much maintain to collect claims and encounter data which are also funded at a matching rate,” Tanksley wrote.

“In addition, and again as mentioned in FY2020 budget hearings, 74 percent of TennCare’s budget goes towards clinical services for members enrolled in the TennCare program while approximately 10 percent goes towards other state agencies such as DIDD and DCS.”

Comptrollers informed the Joint Government Operations Committee this week about how much federal money Tennessee’s Department of Health Care Finance and Administration took in last year, said Comptroller spokesman John Dunn.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

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