STATE FILES MOTION TO DISMISS LEGAL DECREE
GOETZ: RESOURCES SHOULD FOCUS ON CHILD CARE, NOT LAWSUITS
Nashville The state today filed a legal motion to vacate a consent decree and dismiss one of the many legal actions involving the TennCare (Medicaid) program. The motion asks the U.S. District Court in Middle Tennessee to vacate the Decree in the case of John B. v. Goetz, filed in 1998 as John B. v. Menke, addressing early preventive child care for children in TennCare and children in state custody.
We need to focus all our efforts on developing strategies that enhance early child care instead of tying up resources in maintaining a lawsuit, Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz said. We will continue to meet Federal standards for care as well as those established by the pediatric community to see that children on TennCare get the early care they need to for a lifetime of good health.
The consent decree, entered into in 1998, held the state to standards higher than any other in the nation, and higher than Federal standards, regarding Early and Periodic Screenings, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT). By removing the consent decree, the state can expand its efforts to help providers, healthcare plans and parents see that all children get early preventive care especially those who are in the TennCare program or in state custody.
"As in our other court cases, we are just trying to be held to the same standards as other state Medicaid programs," Goetz said, noting that the state is working to establish additional coverage for children and pregnant women with incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level under the CoverKids program. "We think the funds and energy that have been spent on this lawsuit would be better spent there."
The state's motion is based on a recent ruling from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) clarifying that federal class action lawsuits may not be brought to impose broad systemic requirements like those set forth in the John B consent decree.