You spoke and we listened. In response to member feedback, the Council launched its new Crucial Conversations event series featuring interactive panels, small group discussions, Q&A sessions and networking opportunities. During the introductory event May 4, members connected with a dynamic panel of healthcare leaders to discuss the effects of discontinuing the Medicaid enrollment provision, the resulting stressors on the industry and its impact statewide. The panel included Lee Ann Liska, chief operating officer, adult hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Osei Mevs, vice president of government relations for Acadia Healthcare; Stephen Smith, deputy commissioner and director of TennCare; and moderator Leif Murphy, chief executive officer of TeamHealth.

Here are three key points from the discussion:

  1. Reports estimate between five and 14 million people will lose Medicaid coverage during the unwinding of the continuous enrollment provision. We’re concerned about the childless adult said Liska. While TennCare covers disabled and elderly individuals, pregnant women, children, and parents or caretakers of a minor child, adults without children are not covered. Even for women and children who will still be eligible, Liska worries about access to care because there are a lot of providers no longer accepting Medicaid. It would behoove us to do an access or adequacy study to determine where patients receive care now, what happens when that goes away and what do we need to do shore up access for all.

    “Medicaid is the largest reimburser of mental health services in the country,” Mevs added. “About forty percent of that population experiences mental health challenges. It is a key part of behavioral health access and care.”

  2. Challenges from unwinding include a “swelling group of uninsured patients,” resulting in overflowing emergency departments in already understaffed and financially strained hospitals, and a “catastrophic debt burden” on American families. “Fifty percent of uninsured care is provided in a hospital through their emergency department. That is the most expensive access point,” Murphy said. “We are hitting people with the lowest incomes in our society with the biggest bills. The healthcare debt burden is the leading cause of bankruptcy in American families because of lack of access to other care touchpoints and undiscounted medical bills.”

    Do opportunities exist to ease these burdens? “Look at North Carolina, which expanded Medicaid in its last legislative session. Six hundred thousand people will have access to care through Medicaid and the state will receive an influx of $8 billion from the federal government,” Mevs said. “Medicaid expansion provides resources to alleviate stressors and invest in critical infrastructure. Without similar investments, Tennessee will be hard pressed to keep its status as one of the healthcare meccas of the world.”

  3. TennCare continues its efforts to ensure Americans have access to health coverage, such as implementing a modernized eligibility system, multiple member communications channels and coverage auto-renewal options. TennCare has partnered with several organizations to support members, including the Rural Health Association of Tennessee to assist with the redetermination process. “We’ve done extensive work for many years, starting before the pandemic, with the goal that everyone who remains eligible and wants to stay in the program will continue to receive TennCare benefits,” Smith said.

Get insights like this and more by joining the Council’s upcoming events. Don’t forget registration for Nashville Healthcare Sessions is open to Council members until May 31! Register at this link or visit to view the conference schedule.