Tennessee

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States have been divided over whether Purdue Pharma should be allowed to use Chapter 11 protection as part of a $10 billion settlement. But Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery says the state needs that money now to address effects of the opioid crisis, like funding addiction treatment and buying overdose reversal drugs.

"It’s not just the traditional dollar settlement on a claim that could sit out there forever and ever," he tells WPLN. "This has some real, public health urgency to it."


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Tennessee’s Medicaid program is preparing to finalize the country’s first block grant application within days. The plan would reimagine the way the federal government funds health care for low-income Tennesseans, and according to TennCare officials, it envisions expansion of service rather than cuts.

The block grant proposal is not just a request for a lump sum, as critics feared. TennCare has come up with a formula that gives the state even more incentive and flexibility to keep medical costs down. That’s something TennCare has already done better than most state Medicaid programs.


Blake Farmer WPLN

Tennessee’s largest recipient of opioids from 2006 to 2012 wants a recount. A federal database found a pharmacy in Murfreesboro owned by state Sen. Shane Reeves sold 46 million pills over six years. But the company now believes that figure is way off.

TwelveStone Health Partners, which was known during the period as Reeves-Sain Extended Care, has done its own audit for the period covered by the database. The count came up with 2.5 million opioid pills — which is a fraction of the reported total.


Sergio Martínez-Beltrán/WPLN

Tennessee state representatives elected a new House speaker Friday, following months of chaos inside the GOP-dominated chamber as the former leader became engulfed in multiple scandals involving sexually explicit text messages.

House members met for a special legislative session with the sole purpose of naming Rep. Cameron Sexton to lead the chamber. There were no opposing votes, though two Democratic members abstained.

"In this chamber, I will always encourage robust but respectful debate," Sexton said during his acceptance speech. "Debate and conversation make us stronger."

Stephen Jerkins WPLN

Tennessee lawmakers will come back to Nashville later this week to pick a new House speaker.

The election will take place during Friday’s special session, which was called with specific guidelines on what can and cannot take place.

Gov. Bill Lee announced the special session in June, and according to the Tennessee Constitution, he has established what can be discussed during the meeting. The main purpose is for the House to elect its new speaker.  


Blake Farmer WPLN

State Senator Shane Reeves of Murfreesboro says he wasn’t surprised to see his pharmacy as the top recipient of opioids in Tennessee — more than double the next highest pharmacy in the state according to a Washington Post database.

Over a six year period, more than 45 million pain pills passed through what is now named Twelve Stone Health Partners. But Reeves also rejects that his business contributed to the opioid epidemic.

Asked to explain how the company became such an outlier on opioids, Reeves insists on giving a tour of the company's new facility.


In modern medicine, the mind and body often stay on two separate tracks in terms of treatment and health insurance reimbursement. But it's hard to maintain physical health while suffering from a psychological disorder.

Tennessee's Republican governor, Bill Lee, is facing public backlash after he declared Saturday "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day," continuing a decades-old tradition honoring the Confederate general, slave trader and onetime leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

TN Photo Services

Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday he is not running for the U.S. Senate.

Haslam, who was openly contemplating a senate bid, had been quiet about his aspirations to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander after leaving the governor's office this year.

But, in a statement released Thursday morning, Haslam said running for U.S. Senate was not his “calling.”

 


This article was produced in partnership with nonprofit news organization MLK50, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

This year, a hospital housekeeper left her job just three hours into her shift and caught a bus to Shelby County General Sessions Court in Memphis, Tenn.

Chas Sisk-WPLN

Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada said on Tuesday he plans to step down from his position. 

Casada's decision comes hours after the House Republican Caucus cast an unprecedented 45-24 no-confidence vote in Casada, after racist and lewd text messages between him and his former chief of staff were leaked to the media. 

"When I return to town on June 3, I will meet with Caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as Speaker," Casada said.

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Officials say the seven people killed in two homes in rural Tennessee included the parents of the suspect and other relatives.

Law enforcement officials arrested 25-year-old Michael Cummins on Saturday about a mile away from one of the Sumner County crime scenes. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch called the scenes "horrific" and "gruesome."

SHALINA CHATLANI / WPLN

Proposals that would target criminal justice, health care and education took center stage at Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s first State of the State address Monday night.

The governor also presented his first budget, which consists of $38.5 billion.

That budget includes $25 million for a school voucher program called  Tennessee Education Savings Accounts. The pilot program is meant to target low-income students in school districts with schools in the bottom 10 percent. These school districts are Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Jackson-Madison and Shelby. It also includes the Achievement School District, which oversees schools taken over by the state.

Abortion: Tennessee Lawmakers Advance Fetal Heartbeat Bill

Feb 26, 2019
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A bill that would ban most Tennessee women from obtaining abortions once a fetus' heartbeat is detected cleared a key hurdle Tuesday, advancing for a full House vote in the GOP-dominated Legislature.

The move comes amid a national movement from anti-abortion legislators and activists who hope that President Donald Trump's appointments to the Supreme Court will increase their chances of undermining abortion rights.

Stephen Jerkins/WPLN

A measure in the Tennessee House of Representatives that would ban abortions once a heartbeat has been detected has gained the support of Gov. Bill Lee.

The new governor said he’ll back any legislation that reduces the number of abortions, even if it takes the state to court.

The bill, carried by Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, would ban abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen around six weeks into a pregnancy.

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