NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A newspaper investigation says the unwieldy paperwork system behind Tennessee's low-income health insurance program caused thousands of children to lose coverage.

The Tennessean investigation says late, incomplete and unreturned paperwork made it difficult for TennCare to determine eligibility, leading it to drop more children than any other state Medicaid program.

Most TennCare coverage is automatically renewed annually. From 2016 to 2018, the state required 319,000 children's eligibility verified through a system that relied on mailed hard-copy forms. At least 128,000 children were purged out of the roughly 220,000 who faced disenrollment.

The findings are based on the analysis of renewal records and contradict Republican officials who partly blamed the purge on Tennessee's improving economy. Agency spokeswoman Sarah Tanksley says the records aren't reliable. TennCare has since revamped its system.

Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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