- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee’s U.S. senators say they will continue to seek a permanent fix for the state’s financially struggling hospitals after they were granted a federal waiver that gives them $80 million.

Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker announced this week that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a waiver that would allow a handful of hospitals in the state to receive payments for the services they provide to the poor and uninsured.

The waiver also adds Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga to the Public Hospital Supplemental Payment Pool, which includes $30 million of funding for the hospital.

The funding replaces federal dollars the state did not receive from another federal program after the formation of TennCare in 1994. TennCare is the state’s expanded Medicaid program that covers 1.2 million Tennesseans.

Tennessee is the only state in the country without guaranteed access to Medicaid’s disproportionate share hospital program, which gives hospitals funding based on the number of patients they serve who are uninsured or in poverty.

“There’s no reason in the world why Tennessee should be the only state without this kind of payment,” Alexander said. “I’ll continue to work with Senator Corker on a permanent solution.”

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