Judge lifts decree on TennCare in child health care case

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 6:07pm

A class action lawsuit challenging TennCare's treatment of children will be sent to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal judge removed a 1998 consent decree against the state.

John B., et. al vs. Emkes was filed roughly 14 years ago, claiming TennCare failed to provide adequate treatment to children under its coverage. Earlier in the case, Judge Thomas Wiseman put forth a consent decree that TennCare had to abide by and ordered that the state had to meet those decrees — and standards of care — and before the case could be dismissed.

In the filing, Wiseman commended the Tennessee Justice Center, a family advocacy group, for pushing the case and also applauded TennCare for adjusting to the decree.

“The presentation of the proof before the undersigned has been highly professional by both sides and,
much to the credit of both sides, completely devoid of acrimony. The Consent Decree has clearly served its purpose well in bringing about a level of service to the class members that is demonstrative of the compassion that is characteristic of the State of Tennessee,” Wiseman wrote.

However, the TJC said they will appeal Wiseman's decision and continue to push the case forward.

“Doctors, parents and juvenile judges across the state tell us that TennCare still shortchanges children in important ways. There is no question that the case has produced major gains in care for Tennessee’s children. But we respectfully disagree that TennCare is where it can and should be,” said Michele Johnson of TJC.

The case originally stemmed from an alleged failure by TennCare to abide by the federal Early Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment law, which went into effect in 1968.