Tennessee 2024 Legislative Session Recap

Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville

Tennessee’s legislative session ended on April 25, following the passage of many healthcare priorities and funding bills, as well as other bills regarding education, music, and more. Both chambers approved the following healthcare bills:

CON Reform – On April 23, the legislature passed HB 2269, a significant reform of the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) laws. This bill would enhance access to care in both rural and urban settings, address “cherry-picking” concerns, and empower patients to make more informed choices about their healthcare needs.

Hospital Assessments – SB 1740 introduces an annual coverage assessment for hospitals, starting July 1 for FY 2024-25, based on a certain percentage of its annual assessment base. It also includes provisions to raise the voluntary hospital assessment to 6%. The strategy, which Tennessee hospitals support, is intended to secure additional recurring federal funds to help close the state’s Medicaid funding deficit.

Scope of Practice – SB 2136 expands the scope of practice for physician assistants and advanced practice nurses who meet certain qualifications.

Nonprofit Franchise Taxes – Under SB 2103, nonprofit entities will have to pay the franchise tax on their net worth that is attributable to taxable activities under the Internal Revenue Code.

Medical Record Transmission Timelines – SB 2253 extends the timeframe for providers to transmit a claimant’s medical records to a requesting party after payment.

ASTC Licensure – SB 2298 allows the Board of Pharmacy to license ambulatory surgical treatment centers if they meet certain criteria. Gov. Lee signed this bill into law on April 11.

Medical Malpractice – On April 16, the Tennessee legislature passed the “Crotty Fix” bill, modifying how medical bills are recovered in healthcare liability cases. In response to a 2023 Supreme Court decision, this new law limits recoveries to the actual amounts paid by insurance, rather than the full charged amounts. Effective for cases filed after September 29, 2023, this change reduces potential compensation for plaintiffs. HCA Healthcare’s legal and government relations teams, along with a coalition led by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, worked throughout the legislative session to successfully address several material concerns.

Healthcare bills that did not pass this legislative session include an extension of a reporting deadline for opioids and other controlled substances from January 15 to February 1 (HB 916), a requirement that hospitals maintain copies of referral restriction agreements for employed physicians (SB 2919), and a redefinition of scope of practice for anesthesiologist assistants (SB 453).

Budget Overview

The approved $52.8 billion budget for FY 2024-25 includes funding increases for public education, state parks, and the following healthcare initiatives: $197 million for rural health, $100 million for mental health, $26.7 million for services for individuals with disabilities, and over $3 million in support of maternal health through crisis pregnancy nonprofits.

Other Noteworthy Issues

Governor Lee’s push to expand school vouchers failed to pass this session, but will likely be reintroduced next year. Additionally, a new law (SB 1325) will permit some school employees to carry concealed weapons, with districts like Nashville allowed to opt out. Signed by Gov. Lee on March 26, The ELVIS Act (Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security Act) establishes new protections for musicians from artificial intelligence impersonation, maintaining their rights to vocals and imagery.

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