NASHVILLE, Tenn.--A class action lawsuit against the state of Tennessee over delays in Medicaid applications went to trial on Tuesday.
The trial has been years in the making, the suit first filed by The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 2014.
The suit takes aim at state agencies which handle TennCare, claiming practices by the state 'delay and deny health coverage to individuals eligible for Tennessee's federally funded Medicaid program, known as TennCare.'
The suit claims Tennessee had been violating federal law which deprives thousands of low-income citizens timely access to essential medical care.
Specifically, the suit claims the state did this by requiring Tennesseans seeking TennCare to do so through the federal Marketplace, thus closing the TennCare application process to it's citizens. Under federal law, states are supposed to have a system in which citizens can apply directly to the state coverage -in this case TennCare- or submit an application in person. Also, the suit states sending citizens to the Marketplace caused delays because the Marketplace was not designed and does not screen for all eligibility categories.
Since the filing of the suit, an injunction was filed requiring TennCare officials to hold hearing within 45 days for people who had unreasonable delays. However, as of 2015, SPLC says 21,000 Tennesseans who requested such hearings did not get responses withing the 45 day period and some had to allegedly wait as long as 90 days.
The suit was filed on behalf of 11 Tennesseans from across the state which includes five minors. The defendants in the case include the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration which oversees TennCare and the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services, which performs some TennCare eligibility and enrollment functions.
See the full lawsuit below or CLICK HERE: