TennCare focuses on preventative measures

tenncareTennCare officials say they want to spend $6.2 million on preventive measures that will help enrollees take better care of themselves and avoid serious illnesses.

The request is part of $99.3 million needed from the state to make improvements to the expanded Medicaid program, officials told Gov. Phil Bredesen during state budget hearings today.

"Some of our enrollees need extra help in how they should take care of themselves," said Dr. Wendy Long, TennCare's chief medical officer.

One proposal would add coverage of smoking-cessation products - such as nicotine patches -- to the pharmacy benefit. TennCare officials cited statistics that show smoking is a major cause of lower birth weight and cardiovascular disease, among other ailments.

Heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading causes of death in Tennessee, they said.

Bredesen said the amount of money being requested is significantly less because of reforms to TennCare that cut 170,000 people from the program last year to curb out-of-control growth in spending.

Schedules and streaming video of the budget hearing sessions are available at http://www.tennessee.gov/budget_hearings.html.

source - Tenessean