(Photo: South Agency/Getty Images)

Commentary: Pandemic shows it’s time to repeal certificate of need laws

BY: - January 21, 2021

Asher Gross is one of the happiest little girls you will ever meet, despite the daily struggles she faces. A hypoxic brain injury has left her with developmental disabilities, and she suffers from congestive heart failure and a cleft palate. She cannot speak, she has to be fed through a tube, and she has limited […]

Gov. Bill Lee addresses members of the 112th General Assembly at the opening of a special session dedicated to education. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: A costly way to change the subject

BY: - January 19, 2021

Over 150 years after the Constitution was amended to promise equal rights to African-Americans and a decade after the nation’s first African-American president signed the Affordable Care Act into law, racism continues to dominate Tennessee health policy. Last week’s rush to ratify the Trump Administration’s TennCare block grant was the latest chapter in Tennessee officials’ […]

Tennessee House of Representatives (Photo: John Partipilo)

House joins Senate in passing Medicaid block grant

BY: - January 15, 2021

A Medicaid block grant agreement brokered with the Trump Administration rolled through the House Friday on a party line vote. The measure passed 68-22, as the House joined the Senate in approving a Medicaid waiver program designed to enable the state’s TennCare program to take advantage of savings garnered over decades of work. Rep. Bryan […]

Tory Watson of Memphis Police Department gets his vaccine. First responders Memphis and Shelby County police officers, firefighters and EMTs get COVID-19 vaccines Tuesday Dec. 29, 2020. The Shelby County Health Department is administering the shots in a process that will go on for several weeks. (© Karen Pulfer Focht)

Shelby County officials vaccine plan to address racial disparities

BY: - January 15, 2021

Shelby County Health Department officials say they have long term COVID vaccination plans to address any potential racial disparities, a particular concern in Memphis, a majority minority city.  According to the Tennessee Department of Health, current data shows less than 4% percent of Tennesseans who have received the COVID-19 vaccine identify as Black – and […]

Young Black man getting COVID-19 vaccine. Marko Geber/Getty Images

COVID-19 vaccine rollout concerns advocates for poor and minority patients

BY: - January 14, 2021

As demand continues to outpace supply for COVID-19 vaccines, local officials and healthcare advocates are questioning whether Tennessee’s poor, Black and brown residents are getting an equal shot. For more than a week, access to vaccines has been open to Tennesseans age 75 and older through public health departments and hospitals.  Health departments’ rollouts of […]

Tennessee House of Representatives (Photo: John Partipilo)

Senate speeds modified block grant agreement with feds; House suspends rules for consideration

BY: - January 14, 2021

The Tennessee General Assembly is roaring ahead with a modified Medicaid block grant program for the state’s poorest residents despite the possibility the Biden Administration could rescind it. Two Senate panels — the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee — approved the federal agreement Wednesday, with dissent coming only […]

California voters at a protest against Medicaid cuts. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Cooper urges Biden to reverse TennCare block grant

BY: - January 11, 2021

Three days after Tennessee officials announced approval of a Medicaid block grant to fund TennCare, the state’s program for sick and needy residents, Congressman Jim Cooper sent President-elect Joe Biden a letter asking him to rescind the plan. Tennessee’s Republican leaders say a block grant will enable the state to run the healthcare program more […]

Tennesseans on the move: who to keep an eye on in 2021

BY: - December 30, 2020

A year like 2020, replete with drama in politics, health care, education and civil rights, gives public leaders the chance to shine or flop. With the year near to passing in our collective rear view mirrors, the staff of the Tennessee Lookout brings your attention to a handful of Tennesseans in politics, education, health care […]

The year in photos: September-December

BY: - December 30, 2020

Politics and pandemic consumed our photojournalists for the latter portion of the year. When President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, Memphis photojournalist Karen Pulfer Focht went to Barrett’s alma mater, Rhodes College, to get images from Justice Barrett’s college years. Focht also got what may will be one of […]

 COVID-19 Nurses at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in protective gear. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Across Tennessee, local officials warn of holiday surge

BY: - December 23, 2020

In a last-ditch effort ahead of the holidays, public health officials across Tennessee on Tuesday issued a flurry of warnings and pleas for people to avoid gathering with others outside their own households. Tennessee continues to occupy one of the top spots in the nation for the rate of COVID-19 transmission, a dramatic surge that […]

Icebox in which vaccines will be stored at Clinical Research Associates. (Photo: John Partipilo)

200,000 Tennesseans to be vaccinated by the New Year

BY: - December 21, 2020

The first of 115,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine expected in Tennessee this week came Monday morning, arriving in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties and further laying the groundwork in a race to vaccinate 200,000 Tennessean by the end of this year. The Moderna vaccine shipment follows an earlier delivery of 56,500 doses of the […]

Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 7 - Mayor John Cooper tours COVID-19 assessment centers in Davidson County. (Photo:

Community mistrust of COVID-19 vaccine challenges health care officials

BY: - December 18, 2020

For many Tennesseans, the COVID-19 vaccine is a one-size-fits-all solution to returning to pre-pandemic normalcy, but for Black and immigrant Tennesseans, the trials and pending vaccinations are exposing long-standing health inequities in minority communities. The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Tennessee and is being distributed to health care workers first. It’s expected  to become available […]