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Federal funding cuts threaten rural health

Staff Reports • Mar 7, 2017 at 10:59 PM

Congress is in the midst of the most sweeping and radical overhaul of federal health programs in half a century. Rural health care is at risk.

As most people know, Congress is intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. It is not clear, even to members of Congress, with what they will replace it. Congressional leaders want to cut $1 trillion from Medicaid – known here as “TennCare” – in the next nine years, a move that will cost our state billions annually. Congress also has its sights on Medicare, which it intends to overhaul next year. 

Because small hospitals typically get most of their revenues from these programs, ill-considered changes could close many rural hospitals, doing permanent damage to health care and the economies of the communities they serve. 

Congressional leaders’ budget plans threaten rural health in other ways, too. Discretionary programs are to be cut or eliminated to pay for corporate tax cuts. Included on the chopping block are programs that pay for the training and placement of health care professionals in underserved areas, promote telehealth and fund rural clinics.  

Our congressional delegation needs to make sure that rural Tennesseans’ health doesn’t become a casualty in the federal budget and health care debates. For anyone who would like to contact them, their information is below. 

– The Tennessee Justice Center

 

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