- Associated Press - Friday, March 10, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Hospital Association has come out against a new plan in Congress to repeal and replace the Obama health care law, saying the proposal poses “a dark forecast for the future of hospitals in Tennessee.”

THA, which represents 147 acute-care hospitals and health-care facilities across the state, said in a statement Friday that Obamacare has been a challenge. Obamacare is the informal name for the Affordable Care Act.

But the organization said it believes more will lose coverage under the new House GOP bill because it reduces the amount of federal aid people would get to help them pay for their insurance.

“Primarily, we believe a significant number of the roughly 230,000 Tennesseans currently covered could lose their coverage because of an inability to pay for insurance due to significantly reduced federal subsidies,” said THA president and CEO Craig Becker.

THA is affiliated with the American Hospital Association, which announced its opposition to the new proposal earlier this week.

In Tennessee, THA is concerned that the new plan would mean hospitals are going to have to provide free care for more uninsured people while getting even less money to treat Medicaid patients.

The new bill would restructure Medicaid by changing the way the federal government funds the health care program for the poor.

“We continue to review and discuss the various provisions of the bill with our congressional delegation and other Medicaid leaders in order to understand the impact to Tennessee,” said Sarah Tanksley, a spokeswoman for TennCare, in an email.

The Republican health proposal has come under fire by both conservatives and liberals. Some conservatives think the plan is too costly and doesn’t go far enough in repealing the Obama health law. Liberals, on the other hand, say millions of people would lose their health insurance under the new measure.

The new plan, Becker said, does nothing to address the instability of the insurance marketplace. He noted that multiple insurers no longer sells plans on the federal health care marketplace, resulting in limited coverage to people in different parts of the state.

Tennessee Hospitals each year provide nearly $2 billion in services to treat the uninsured, he said. He encouraged federal lawmakers to come up with a solution that supports “the viability of hospitals and other providers, especially those in rural areas.”

“The livelihood of Tennessee’s hospitals and the communities we serve hinges on finding this balance,” Becker said.

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Jonathan Mattise contributed to this report

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