Governor Bredesen: No new Tenncare enrollees

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Knoxville (WVLT) - The governor announced he is scaling back the planned expansion of Tenncare.

This is bad news for chronically ill Tennesseans who need financial assistance. Governor Bredesen announced no Tenncare enrollees will be lost, but the medically needy program--also known as the spend down program will not add any new patients like they had planned to do.

"We're very disappointed that that was the decision he made," said John Stewart from the Tennessee Healthcare Campaign.

The spend down program covers medical bills for chronically ill people, but also helps with their other needs like food and bills. The program's been frozen for two years, but was just about to re-open registration when the governor made today's announcement.

"It's a program that people have been looking forward to people who need it finally were gonna have access to it again, and it would appear now that access is not going to be available," Stewart said.

The governor says postponing the planned expansion should save money for the state. It's projected to save about 80 million dollars.

"We understand the state's in a budget crisis, but this is a program that was already funded," Stewart said.

It was already funded, but now the state will save that money to help fill a 500 million dollar deficit. Governor Bredesen also announced there will not be any current Tenncare benefits changed.