After a delay, Tennessee lawmakers extend TennCare contracts without Centene
The Fiscal Review Committee extended old contracts instead of entering into the new ones agreed to in 2021 because of Centene’s lawsuit
House Speaker Cameron Sexton has been pushing to give a TennCare contract to health care provider Centene. Tennessee’s Fiscal Review Committee opted not to add Centene.(Photo: John Partipilo)
Tennessee extended its three contracts for the state’s multibillion-dollar Medicaid program after it was delayed a month by state House Republicans.
Members of the House GOP prevented the Tennessee General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee from approving the extensions in October, stating they wanted more time to review the possibility of adding Centene’s Rhythm Health as an insurance provider for TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid program.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, has been pushing for Centene’s addition since the company failed to win a TennCare contract during the bidding process in 2021. Sexton sponsored a bill, that never passed, requiring TennCare to add a fourth contractor to its service.
Centene is a St. Louis, Mo.-based health services company that focuses on administering government health programs such as correctional health services, Medicaid and Medicare. The company operates a Medicare program in Tennessee called WellCare and previously ran a correction health company operating in the state called Centurion
During the 2021 bidding, TennCare awarded new contracts to BlueCross BlueShield, UnitedHealthcare and Amerigroup, which were the three companies that previously ran the Medicaid insurance coverage plan.
Centene was the only other company to bid for the TennCare contract. After losing, the company appealed to two different state boards, losing each time. Centene then sued the state in an ongoing case.
Throughout Centene’s appeals and lawsuit, the state has chosen to extend its previous TennCare contracts instead of entering into the new ones agreed to in 2021.
“If we didn’t have the protest, if we weren’t in court, we would be entering the third year of the [new] contract,” said TennCare Director Stephen Smith.
The TennCare contracts are some of the largest the state awards. BlueCross BlueShield, UnitedHealthcare and Amerigroup also some of the biggest political spenders in the state because of this, as is Centene.
The company’s push into TennCare also comes as it has settled allegations of fraud and overbilling in 17 of the 30 states where it operates a Medicaid program. The settlements totaled over $937 million.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.