GOP Unveils Healthcare Bill; Tennesseans React

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jun 22, 2017

Some Tennessee veterans called a Senate GOP healthcare bill a slap in the face to those who have served their country and now rely on Medicaid for care.

"I looked at the bill that was released this morning by the Senate," said Air Force veteran and Hendersonville resident Kelly Gregory. "It would end Medicaid as we know it in this country and it would cut me out of Medicaid."

Gregory suffered five heart attacks in five years before being diagnosed with a genetic blood clotting disease. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with stage four, terminal breast cancer.

"My private insurer quadrupled my premiums in a two year period," Gregory said. "Meaning I had to drop my insurance because I couldn’t afford it."

Gregory ultimately relied on TennCare, Tennessee's Medicaid program, which helped cover her treatment. But now, she worries that care will be dropped and millions more will be impacted by a bill written by Republican lawmakers behind closed doors.

The bill will tie federal Medicaid funding to the Consumer Price Index, instead of medical inflation. That means funding will increase more slowly than cost of care, resulting in deep cuts to the program over time.

The GOP bill will also cut funding to Planned Parenthood for at least one year and allow insurers to charge older adults five times more than the young - versus Obamacare which allowed for a three times higher rate.

It will also remove the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will evaluate the proposal over coming days to determine the cost of the bill. GOP leaders hope to have a vote on the bill by next week.

For now, it is unclear how Tennessee's republican Senators Alexander and Corker will vote, though Alexander is one who worked on the law in secret.

Nationally, at least four Republicans have said they are not ready to support the bill as it is written. If more than two republican senators vote against the bill, it will fail.

On the democratic side, Rep. Jim Cooper released the following statement:

"More of the same: Brutal cuts, fewer covered, worse care. No wonder Senate Republicans worked so hard to keep this bill a secret. But beware of last-minute deals that lead to sudden passage."