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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Administration requests to sell the University of Tennessee’s TennCare health maintenance license in Knoxville and create a new health plan were authorized Friday by UT trustees.

Dr. Charles Mercer, vice chancellor of the UT Medical Center here, told a board committee Thursday UT expected to get about 40,000 TennCare patients when the existing health plan was created in 1993.

Only about 7,000 enrolled in the UT program, far short of the mix UT officials said are needed to break even financially.

“Most of those 7,000 were very sick, and we had very few healthy patients,” said Bill Rice, UT’s vice president for health affairs.

UT proposes to sell the TennCare HMO license and transfer its enrollees to Blue Cross-Blue Shield, then to create a new health plan that will provide medical care to TennCare recipients through insurance companies and other hospitals in East Tennessee.

In other action, the board of trustees authorized the UT administration to seek approval for $85 million in state-funded building projects next year. The projects and their estimated cost include:

* First phase of the agricultural biotechnology research building in Knoxville, $4.5 million.

* Renovation of Claxton Education Building in Knoxville, $11.4 million.

* Final phase of the renovation of the Wittenborg-Link building in Memphis, $12.4 million.

* Renovation of the Hesler Biology Building in Knoxville, $18.2 million.

* Various maintenance projects on all campuses, $19 million.

UT will submit its capital outlay requests to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.