Rural Hospitals In Jeopardy If Senate Healthcare Bill Passes

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Posted at 5:27 PM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 19:49:41-04

Tennessee doctors and hospitals have strongly come out against a Senate proposal to overhaul the country's healthcare system. The proposal included deep cuts to Medicaid that could force 15 million people out of the system by 2025.

"When you have patients who are uninsured, it increased the uncompensated care for the hospitals and the provider," said Maury Regional Hospitals CEO Alan Watson. "At some point we're going to have to take a hard look at the services we provide and the facilities we have across the region."

Maury Regional serves about 21,000 patients who rely solely on TennCare and Medicaid to pay for care, many of them live in rural areas, where healthcare options are scarce.

Watson said despite cuts to Medicaid, hospitals like Maury Regional would continue to provide care. That would mean hospitals would see decreases in payments and patients could become more sick.

"We’ll see patients delay care and waiting until they’re sicker to receive car at the ER, which is more expensive," Watson said.

Additionally, Watson said the bill will also impact those who do not rely on Medicaid.

"Reduced subsidies for healthcare will cause folks to buy cheaper plans with less coverage or drop coverage completely," he said. "Anytime you have less people covered, it translates to uncompensated care for hospitals."

Watson is asking Tennesseans to reach out to Senators Alexander and Corker before the Senate votes on this bill.

"Let them know your concerns," he said.

The Senate is expected to vote sometimes after July 4.