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Get to Know the State Budget

 
Last week, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a record $52.8B budget for FY22-23. Read on to learn more about what the budget means for community health centers.
 
Highlights from the FY22-23 Budget 
The Tennessee General Assembly passed a $52.8B FY22-23 budget last week, the largest budget ever passed in Tennessee. The budget must be signed by Governor Lee and will go into effect on July 1, 2022. The FY22-23 budget includes:  
  • $1B for Tennessee's public schools 
  • $500M for bonds for a new Titans stadium 
  • $250M for infrastructure  
  • $250M in additional funding for the rainy-day fund  
  • $80M for a food tax holiday  
  • $9.7M to eliminate the professional privilege tax for doctors 
TennCare Adult Dental Benefit 
The FY22-23 budget includes historic investments in dental and oral health. The FY22-23 budget includes $25M in state funding and $50M in federal funding to provide an adult dental benefit to TennCare enrollees. Tennessee was only one of a few states without any dental coverage for adults with TennCare prior to the passage of the budget.1 The benefit is expected to cover 600,000 Tennesseans.2
 
Tennessee Department of Health Dental Funding  
To ensure there are adequate providers to care for folks with newly acquired dental coverage, the state budget also includes funding to support dental schools. The FY22-23 budget includes nearly $12M in non-recurring funding for the Tennessee Department of Health for the first year of a $94M multi-year pilot program to support dental providers and services across the state. Funding will be used to expand the class sizes at the state's existing dental schools (Meharry and University of Tennessee), recruit and retain dentists through loan repayment, and expand prosthodontic services. In addition, Lincoln Memorial is starting a dental program in the fall of 2022, and the budget includes $3M in non-recurring funding to establish a pilot program to serve East TN in partnership with the Lincoln Memorial Dental School. 
 
Tennessee Department of Health Care Safety Net Funding 
The Tennessee General Assembly included an additional $5M in non-recurring funding for the Health Care Safety Net in the FY22-23 budget, bringing total Safety Net funding to approximately $29M. The Health Care Safety Net fund helps partially offset the cost of providing care to uninsured adults for community health centers and charitable and faith-based clinics in Tennessee.  
 
How do these investments impact community health centers? 
Although community health centers provide comprehensive primary care services, only some health centers provide dental services. In 2020, Tennessee's health centers provided more than 53,000 dental visits and cared for nearly 30,000 unique dental patients.3 Thirty percent of health center patients in Tennessee have TennCare coverage.4 The advent of a TennCare dental benefit for adults will support health centers in establishing or maintaining dental programs and ensure more underserved patients receive care. Investments in the Health Care Safety Net more broadly will support comprehensive primary care services for the 31% of community health center patients who lack health insurance. 
 
 
 
[1]  Center for Health Care Strategies. (2019).Medicaid Adult Dental Benefits Coverage by State. Retrieved from https://www.chcs.org/media/Medicaid-Adult-Dental-Benefits-Overview-Appendix_091519.pdf
[2] Blake Farmer, N. (2022). Tennessee Offers to Expand Dental Schools as Medicaid Coverage Stretches Need. Retrieved from https://khn.org/news/article/tennessee-dental-school-medicaid-benefit-expansion-meharry/
[3] Tennessee Health Center Program Uniform Data System (UDS) Data. (2022). Retrieved from https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/data-reporting/program-data/state/TN
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
 

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