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Tenn. hospitals worried GOP will repeal Obamacare without a replacement


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  The head of the Tennessee Hospital Association says his members are "holding their breath" as they wait to see if the Affordable Healthcare Act will be repealed next month.

Just under 269,000 Tennesseans currently have insurance through what’s commonly referred to as Obamacare, a program the new Republican majority in Congress say they intend to repeal in January, even though an replacement plan has not yet been hammered out.

THA president Craig Becker says seven Tennessee hospitals have already closed in recent months, mainly in rural areas of the state. He says axing Obamacare without a viable alternative will have consequences.

“If you do that and you don’t have the coverage and we go back to having high amounts of uncompensated care, then you’re going to see many of our rural and urban hospitals are going to be very stretched and stressed.”

Becker says his Tennessee member hospitals are encouraged by President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of former surgeon Tom Price to head Health and Human Services and health policy expert Seema Verma to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“It is somewhat hopeful, particularly the fact that she (Seema Verma) worked with Vice-President-elect Mike Pence to get expansion in Indiana.”

Becker is referring to Gov. Pence pushing for expansion of Medicaid in Indiana, something called for in the Affordable Care Act, but only embraced by about a third of the nation’s Republican Governors.

The GOP may have trouble getting a plan passed. They hold 52 seats in the Senate, but need 60 to keep Democrats from blocking any proposal.