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TennCare Overview

TennCare is the state of Tennessee's Medicaid program that provides health care for 1.2 million Tennesseans and operates with an annual budget of approximately $9 billion. For further details about the program, you can view a TennCare 101 Presentation or continue reading the overview on this page.

The TennCare program operates under a Section 1115 waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

TennCare is one of the oldest Medicaid managed care programs in the country, having begun on January 1, 1994. It is the only program in the nation to enroll the entire state Medicaid population in managed care.

Medicaid waiver programs are time-limited. The first TennCare waiver and subsequent extensions ended on June 30, 2002. The waiver under which TennCare is now operating is called "TennCare II." It began on July 1, 2002, and has been extended several times, with the most recent extension being from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2013. TennCare requested another extension beginning on July 1, 2013, and continuing through June 30, 2016. CMS has told the state that the extension is approved, and CMS is now integrating the Bureau’s technical corrections into the approval materials. The current approval materials continue to be in effect through June 30, 2013.

TennCare services are offered through managed care entities. Medical, behavioral and Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) are covered by "at risk" managed care organizations (MCO) in each region of the state. Enrollees have their choice of MCOs serving the areas in which they live, except that some enrollees are assigned to TennCare Select. TennCare Select is the MCO for foster children, children receiving SSI, and children under 21 in a nursing facility or ICF-MR. TennCare Select also serves as the state's back-up MCO.

In addition to the MCOs, there is a Pharmacy Benefits Manager for coverage of prescription drugs and a Dental Benefits Manager for provision of dental services to children under age 21. Coordination of care is the responsibility of the enrollee's primary care provider in his or her MCO.

Long-Term Services and Supports are provided in Nursing Facilities (NFs) and Intermediate Care Facilities for persons with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IID), as well as by Home and Community Based Services providers. These services had been "carved out" of TennCare and paid for by the state through a fee-for-service arrangement. However in 2010, the state successfully implemented the TennCare CHOICES in Long-Term Services and Supports which brought long-term care for persons who are elderly and disabled into the managed care program. More information about the CHOICES program can be found here.

The Bureau of TennCare within the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration is the state agency charged with responsibility for administering the TennCare program. In addition to overseeing the contracts with the managed care entities and overseeing the Long-Term Services and Supports program, the Bureau of TennCare is responsible for payment of Medicare premiums, deductibles, and/or coinsurance for certain low-income Medicare beneficiaries.