U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) and U.S. Representative Zach Wamp (R-TN) today praised the announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that a partnership between Erlanger Health System, Blue Care and TennCare Select will receive $2.3 million over the next two years in federal grant funding to improve access to non-emergency medical care for Medicaid beneficiaries. As authorized by The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, CMS issued a total of $50 million in competitive grant awards to help state Medicaid programs provide primary medical care alternatives to costly hospital emergency room visits. Priority was given to alternatives that focused on rural and underserved areas or those that partnered with local community hospitals.
Through this grant funding, the partnership will establish a new health clinic on Erlanger’s main campus in Chattanooga that will serve as a primary care provider for Medicaid patients referred from the hospital’s emergency room.
“Tennesseans need to have access to quality, affordable health care, and a big part of that is making sure that there are enough facilities to meet the growing demands of patients in our state,” Alexander said. “This funding will help ensure that Medicaid recipients in the Chattanooga area will have better access to non-emergency medical centers. I’m glad that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have recognized this need in Tennessee, and I will continue to work with the rest of our congressional delegation to make sure Tennesseans are getting the health care they need.”
“The overuse of emergency rooms by patients seeking routine medical treatment puts strains on our health care system, increasing costs for everyone and preventing patients from receiving better care at a facility more equipped to meet their needs. This funding will provide Medicaid patients in the Chattanooga area with greater access to primary, non-emergent medical care in a more efficient and cost effective manner,” Corker said. “Finding a way for all Americans to have access to affordable, private health care remains a top priority of mine and programs like this one that make health care work better for patients are a step in the right direction.”
“The Erlanger partnership is receiving well-deserved support to expand health care access for Medicaid patients in Chattanooga,” said Congressman Zach Wamp. “It is critical to relieve the overcrowding of emergency rooms and still provide patients, especially in rural and underserved areas, with the primary medical care they need.”
Funding under this federal grant program is directed for establishing new community health centers, extending the hours of operation at existing clinics, educating beneficiaries about new services and providing for electronic health information exchange between facilities for better coordination of care.
Medicaid programs in 20 states received awards through this program including: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. Tennessee will receive a total of $4.4 million over two years for three projects including Nashville Medical Home Connection and a partnership between Haywood Park Community Hospital and Hardeman County Community Health Center.