Behavioral health plan targeted by Speaker Harwell’s task force

Courtesy of WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The House task force looking into a statewide health care plan for potentially low-income Tennesseans identified a starting point Tuesday after a meeting on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill.

“I would say it would be a good chance we are starting at the behavioral health side,” said Rep. Cameron Sexton, who is chairing the task force for the plan which has been called “3-Star Healthy Project.”

This comes after the group heard that 114,000 low income Tennesseans have mental health or behavioral issues.

Sexton is one of five lawmakers on the task force, comprised of four Republicans and one Democrat, who have held six meetings across the state since the group was formed in April by House Speaker Beth Harwell.

Most observers agreed it was a response to public criticism, even billboards, that called for Speaker Harwell to help revive Governor Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessean plan for 280,000 low-income Tennesseans.

Insure Tennessee sparked a brief special session in 2015, but it did not have the support of the Republican-dominated legislature.

When asked about a self-imposed June deadline for coming up with a plan that would be presented to federal regulators (CMS) for approval, Rep. Sexton indicated they are loosely looking at some point around June 21.

“There will be some discussions with CMS based on the direction we will try to go,” he. “Once we determine the behavior health side and the benefits and how comprehensive it is going to be, there will have to be a dollar amount and we’ll see what it is and states are all over the place on what it would cost.”

Exactly how the program might be funded, the cost and the number of people it might help remain a question, but Rep. Sexton says the idea all along has been to phase-in certain pilot programs like a behavioral health plan.

Copyright 2016 WKRN. All rights reserved.

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