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As the healthcare debate rages in Washington, Tennessee hospitals suffer


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A Tennessee hospital industry leader says no one seems to know where Republicans are headed next in the health care debate, and that continuing uncertainty is a serious problem.

GOP Senators met again Wednesday night in an effort to hammer out a health care deal after President Trump called them to the White House  and berated them for failing to keep campaign promises to repeal Obamacare. There was no indication Thursday morning the Senators had any success.

Craig Becker heads the Tennessee Hospital Association. He says if the nation’s health care marketplace isn’t stabilized, people are either going to lose their health care coverage, or walk away from policies that are too expensive. For his hospitals, that means patients what can’t pay.

“There’s 250,000 Tennesseans who are covered now under the (Obamacare) exchange, and if they were to lose their coverage overnight, then I guarantee you that would have a very bad impact on hospitals for sure.”

Becker says he’s especially worried about Tennessee rural hospitals. He says they’re especially vulnerable to turbulence in the marketplace.

“We’ve already seen approximately nine hospitals close in the last couple of months and they’ve been all rural hospital and some of them have been in communities that are now, basically medical deserts. There’s no healthcare in those communities.”

Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander was one of the Senators called to the White House Wednesday by President Trump. Following that meeting Alexander told reporters he didn’t think the GOP could muster 40 votes for Obamacare repeal, well below the 51 votes needed for passage.