CoverTN expects to shift 16,000 enrollees to health care exchanges

State 'not encouraged' feds will permit grace period

The governor has little hope the state can keep its CoverTN program for one more year under the Affordable Care Act before shifting people to buy coverage on the federal exchanges, he told reporters Monday.

The limited benefit health insurance plan designed to fill gaps in coverage for people who have trouble accessing health insurance is scheduled to end on Dec. 31 because it no longer qualifies as an acceptable program under the Affordable Care Act.

But with the president’s announcement last week that people who like their current plans may be able to keep them for one more year, the TennCare Deputy Commissioner Darin Gordon is trying to find out if that rule would hold true under the state program.

“Darren is not encouraged from what he knows so far,” Haslam said Monday after the agency’s budget hearing.

CoverTN has 16,000 enrollees, according to state officials, all of whom would be expected to purchase health coverage under the federal exchange. However, struggles getting the exchange up and running are giving the department pause and raising questions as to whether they can convince the feds to issue them a one-year waiver.

Questions also linger around the AccessTN program, the state’s high risk pool offering coverage to those previously uninsurable due to preexisting conditions. The state already plans to use reserve funding to keep the program for one more year to serve 700 people under federal extension, but it is yet to determine whether it offer the extension to all enrollees. About 2,600 people are currently enrolled in the program, according to state officials.

The 60,000-member CoverKids program would continue to provide coverage to families that earn less than 250% of the federal poverty level, about $58,875 for a family of four. Approximately 650 children whose families make more are now expected to buy insurance on the exchanges, although the department is looking for an option to let those families continue “buying into” the program.