Our hospitals - and I know it is harder to identify with the image of a struggling hospital than a struggling Tennessean – but they’ve been put in a very difficult position by the Affordable Care Act.
They are losing many of the funds which they received to provide healthcare for our state’s indigent. While many hospitals can survive this, I am convinced that several of our hospitals will be left in an impossible situation and will not survive this transition.Some of our communities – rural and urban – could very well lose their community hospital.
So said Governor Bill Haslam on March 27, 2013, when he addressed the General Assembly. During this speech, he proposed a ‘Tennessee Plan’, but scant details were mentioned in this speech, which is the only ‘Tennessee Plan’ reference I could find on the internet.
Last month at a meeting of Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, Gordon Bonnyman of the Tennessee Justice Center told the Health Care breakout group that three of the governor’s provisions can never meet Federal approval. Haslam’s desire to buy insurance for the poor on the Health Care Exchange is just fine, but he wants to avoid paying for patient transportation or certain screenings. Further, he wants the poor to put out some money up front. (The governor apparently hasn’t met any truly poor people.)
The law is ending subsidies for hospitals across the state, including ones in rural counties, that treat large proportions of uninsured patients because the federal government will instead pick up the cost of expanding Medicaid. Other revenue streams for health care providers are simultaneously dwindling, putting hospitals in financial straits that will lead to closures and downsizing as well as doctors and nurses leaving Tennessee for other states, they said.
“I know that Medicaid expansion is a very controversial topic,” Kinch said. “We’re not saying this is the solution for the next 10 years, but we need answers and we need solutions for the next couple of years so that we can get through. The access-to-care issue is going to come to a crisis.”
Dr. Kinch argues that political problems with the Affordable Care Act can wait until the next election. As a doctor, he’s trying to do his duty now. Representative Mike Turner, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, has added his public plea to religious leaders of all persuasions.
Please, Governor. I know you don’t like the poor, but do it for the hospitals.