The federal government has granted more flexibility to TennCare – Tennessee’s state Medicaid program – to help the state handle the COVID-19 outbreak.
Gov. Bill Lee said during a news conference Wednesday that a federally approved waiver will provide greater flexibility and additional funding to serve the Medicaid population.
Some of the flexibility includes letting TennCare cover services at alternative unlicensed facilities, reimbursing otherwise payable claims from out-of-state providers, and waiving background checks and licensing regulations for physicians who have not yet provided Medicaid coverage but are seeking to.
Lee said Tennessee also is providing additional resources to every county so every uninsured Tennessean can access medical care. He said providers have partnered with hospitals to assist with getting Tennesseans tested for COVID-19 if they need to be.
The governor also said Tennessee has secured more than 18 million pieces of personal protective equipment with a total value of $45 million. The PPE have been sent to urban and rural counties. Higher education institutions have produced 10,000 face shields with 3D printers, and Lee said companies, colleges, universities and private medical providers are innovating to ensure Tennessee has enough equipment to manage the pandemic.
To combat the spread of COVID-19, Lee on Monday ordered nonessential businesses to close and urged residents to stay home. He said Wednesday the most important action a person can do to prevent the spread of the virus is to stay home.
“As simple as it is, staying at home saves lives,” Lee said. “Right now in this fight against COVID-19, heroes stay at home. We need Tennesseans to do that in every corner and every community in Tennessee, and together we can fight this COVID-19 pandemic that is making its way across Tennessee.”
Tennessee has 2,683 COVID-19 cases, 200 hospitalizations and 24 deaths, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The country has more than 211,000 cases and at least 4,718 deaths.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.
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Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Tennessee for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.