Tenn Care reforms protect children

  By Jennifer Lassiter
  star staff
  In an effort to reform TennCare, Gov. Bredesen and his administration announced yesterday a plan to provide broader protections for children.
  "One of the fundamental principles of our reform effort is to protect children," Bredesen said. "With that in mind, we have decided to remove all cost sharing requirements for children in TennCare." With 38,000 families with children who are currently paying premiums or co-payments based on family income levels this could significantly lower their cost burden.
  The governor also said the administration will exempt children from the provision in the new TennCare reform strategy that excludes gastric acid reducers and antihistamines. Many over-the-counter medications previously not covered by TennCare were causing many children to simply go without because of added costs. The overall cost estimated to cover the new exemption is $15 million dollars.
  Both protections will be included in the TennCare reform waiver document that will be offered for public comment later this week and submitted to the federal government later this year.
  Joining Bredesen at the announcement was the leadership of the Children's Hospital Alliance of Tennessee (CHAT), which represents Tennessee's Children's Hospitals and other providers of care to children.
  "I want to thank the children hospitals across Tennessee for their partnership and expertise as we move forward with fundamental TennCare reform," said Bredesen. "Their input and expertise has been instrumental in our efforts to advance the reform strategy."
  The governor stressed that TennCare reform is crucial to the state's financial stability, and to the state's ability to make continued investments in vital priorities such as education.