It has been a week filled with long House Floor sessions this week in Nashville. However, we made progress on a few key issues. This week I would like to turn your attention to an announcement made by Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell, and Governor Haslam.
For the past year or so, the Tennessee General Assembly, and Tennesseans as a whole, have heard much discussion over the path for our healthcare system and the issues facing it. As many of you guys know, we had the Insure Tennessee bill last year that failed. Since then, members of the Tennessee General Assembly have heard from many constituents in regards to this issue. We have realized that there is a healthcare problem amongst many Tennesseans today, and Speaker Harwell’s announcement speaks to that.
The Speaker announced the formation of a Healthcare Task Force for the purpose of improving access to medical care. It has been named the 3-Star Healthy Project. The task force is composed of Representatives Roger Kane, Cameron Sexton, Matthew Hill, and Steve McManus.

 

The 3-Star Healthy Project’s Task Force will be charged with developing a list of options for making TennCare more efficient and increasing access to medical care for Tennesseans. These options will be tested through a set of pilot programs. One concept under consideration is that the pilots would be launched in different areas of the state and successful pilots would be phased in over time. Staggered implementation would ensure that the rollout of the 3-Star Healthy Project proceeds only after key benchmarks are met. Phased implementation timelines are widely used in quality improvement initiatives currently in the health care sector. This will allow Tennessee to monitor the success of three pilots to determine which works best for Tennesseans and control costs the most.
Initial discussions among members yielded the following examples of conservative ideas for the pilots: encouraging enrollees to take more responsibility for their health and use of healthcare services; creating Health Savings Accounts funded by enrollees’ premiums to pay copayments for doctor’s visits and prescriptions; providing support for enrollees who want to re-enter the workforce.

 

Another unique feature of the Project the Task Force will consider is the concept of thresholds and “circuit breakers.” In order for these pilots to be implemented beyond an initial area, costs from the previous phase of implementation could not exceed a predetermined benchmark. The Task Force is charged with identifying such benchmarks, as well as an overall “circuit breaker,” which would immediately end a pilot should the state’s share of costs increase.

 

The Task Force will evaluate these ideas and others brought to the attention of its members over the next two months. The Speaker has asked the Task Force to return a report to her in June. They are set to have their first meeting April 26th and 27th.

 

I hope everyone has had a great week. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or if I can be any help to you. I can be reached by email at rep.harry.brooks@capitol.tn.gov or by phone at 615-741-6879. It is an honor to be your representative.

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