Wellmont Health System and healthcare providers across the state are seeking permission in U.S. District Court to participate in ongoing legal proceedings that will determine the future of the state’s TennCare program.
A memorandum of law in support of a motion to intervene was filed this afternoon on behalf of eight Tennessee healthcare organizations, including Wellmont. The filing asks the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville to recognize the healthcare providers as intervenors in Grier v. Goetz, a lawsuit that has compromised Gov. Phil Bredesen’s ability to enact needed TennCare reform.
“The proposed intervenors are all institutions with special knowledge of what impact the proposed TennCare reforms would have on healthcare delivery across Tennessee – and of what impact a failure to proceed with reform would have,” the memorandum reads. “From their individual experiences as participants in Tennessee’s healthcare delivery system, the proposed intervenors have a special knowledge of how best to reform the system in ways that will provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number of Tennesseans, while addressing the state’s fiscal concerns.”
In addition to Wellmont, healthcare providers participating in the motion include The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, Erlanger Health System, Nashville General Hospital at Meharry, Methodist Healthcare, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., Saint Francis Hospital and UT Medical Group.
“Unless reform is enacted, the entire TennCare system is in jeopardy,” said Gary Miller, Wellmont’s senior vice president of legal affairs. “With this memorandum, we’re asking the court to give healthcare providers a seat at the table as the future of TennCare is decided.
“We believe it sends a strong message when healthcare providers from Bristol to Memphis join together and say a reformed TennCare program is better for our patients than no TennCare program at all.”
Gov. Bredesen in January unveiled a TennCare reform plan that would protect the program’s financial viability by reducing the number of covered adults while preserving coverage for children. Legal delays have prevented the governor from putting his plan into action.
“The governor has made a difficult decision that will preserve TennCare access for those people who need it most, and we support his authority and right to do what needs to be done for the good of all Tennesseans,” Miller said. “With each passing day and new legal delay, our state is inching ever closer to a healthcare crisis that will threaten our hospitals’ ability to provide care to not only our TennCare patients but also to all the patients we serve.”