Tennessee is being sued for depriving eligible residents of Medicaid coverage.
The changes to the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare, following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act have resulted in thousands of individuals being blocked from coverage they are entitled to, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville. And the firms involved argue it’s because of politics related to the health care law.
“Tennessee officials are sacrificing the health of the state’s most vulnerable citizens just to score political points,” said Sam Brooke, staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is filing the lawsuit along with the Tennessee Justice Center and National Health Law Program. “They’re throwing a monkey wrench into their own Medicaid program so they can demonize the federal government. People in dire need of medical care are being sacrificed.”
Medicaid law requires applications to be adjudicated within 45 days, yet many residents in Tennessee have not received any response from TennCare in as long as three times that period, the lawsuit says. Furthermore, the state is not allowing hearings in the event of a denial or no determination, leaving applicants in limbo with no recourse to get coverage.
The organizations filing the suit say these delays are a result of changes to TennCare that were put into place following the Obamacare rollout. On Jan. 1, the state stopped accepting direct applications for coverage, instead requiring consumers to apply through HealthCare.gov — something they say the federal marketplace was never meant to handle alone.
If there are determination issues between the federal system and the state office, applicants are out of luck, because the state also ended in-person assistance last fall.
Tennessee is the only state without in-person guidance or an enrollment system of its own.
TennCare, however, places the blame on the federal government for any problems that have arisen.
“The state has not only shouldered its own responsibilities, but also has devoted substantial resources to mitigating problems arising from the federal marketplace flaws,” TennCare Director Darin Gordon wrote in a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services earlier this month. “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.”
The remarks were a response to a request from CMS at the end of last month for a plan of how TennCare will meet Medicaid requirements. Similar letters were sent to five other states with large backlogs of Medicaid applications: Alaska, California, Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri.
Yet while the other states have taken measures to address the problem and reduce their backlogs, the suit’s filers say, Tennessee has taken steps backward. CMS’s only recourse aside from a slap on the wrist is to revoke Medicaid funding from the state — a last resort the suit’s filers say no one wants, and one they hope to avoid through court intervention.
Like most red states, Tennessee has declined to participate in Medicaid expansion, but it is the first state in the country to face litigation over its Medicaid practices since the ACA went into effect.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”