Lawmakers discuss rural hospital crisis with TennCare officials

Posted at 3:44 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 22:28:46-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — State lawmakers met with the Department of TennCare to discuss the rural hospital crisis going on in Tennessee.

During Wednesday's hearing, officials talked about what Tennessee's options are as more rural hospitals are shut down. The hospitals are facing a lot of issues, according to lawmakers. Including the high cost of hiring a physician in a rural area.

The distance between hospitals in rural areas is growing, and according to people with TennCare, while they say the idea of regional health centers sounds good, it's already difficult to get people to travel extended distances for health care.

In the end, falling profits are keeping the hospitals from staying open.

"If it's not sustainable for us to be this kind of organization or provide this level of services, what is sustainable, what does the community need? How can we position ourselves in a way so that we can continue deliver value going forward and not just turn the lights off and go home and there's nothing but an empty building," said Department of TennCare CFO William Aaron.

The most recent example of this was the closure of Jamestown Regional Medical Center in Fentress County.

Another meeting on the issue was set for July 16.