The Tennessean: TennCare call center has no answers

By Tom Wilemon

Tennesseans calling for help with Medicaid applications reach someone who can't view their file, can't answer basic questions, and probably won't call them back.

Because of delays with a $35.7 million computer system, call center employees can do little except answer the telephone and pass along messages to TennCare. They cannot tell whether the state has received applications from the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, and they cannot tell people the status of their eligibility. An attorney with a law firm representing TennCare acknowledged those failings in a letter.

That letter has become part of a federal lawsuit that lawyers for three nonprofits filed against TennCare last month. They want the court to make TennCare provide documents and other evidence referenced in the letter by Monday. That's less than two weeks before oral arguments are scheduled on class-action status for the suit.

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