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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chamber, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Monday appointed a new director of Tennessee's Medicaid program known as TennCare.

Lee selected Stephen Smith, who currently serves as deputy director and chief of state to TennCare. Smith previously served in former Gov. Bill Haslam's administration, including chief of staff, policy director and senior advisor.

Earlier this year, Lee announced that current Director Gabe Roberts would be departing on March 2 to work in the private sector.

Smith's appointment comes comes during negotiations with the federal government over Tennessee's $7.9 billion block grant proposal to become the first state to receive funding in a lump sum for its Medicaid program. Lee has said he's hopeful a response from the federal government on the plan might come by this summer.

TennCare provides health insurance to approximately 1.4 million low-income Tennesseans, including pregnant women, children, caretaker relatives of dependent children and older adults, and disabled adults.

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