Panelists believe Senate’s health care bill will harm Tennesseans

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A group gathered Monday night to express their concerns and answer audience questions about how they think the Senate’s health care bill would impact Tennessee.

The Tennessee Justice Center hosted the panel discussion with five health care professionals who said they believe the bill would negatively impact Tennesseans in rural areas and those on TennCare.

The discussion was held at Vanderbilt’s First Amendment Center where earlier this month President Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price praised TennCare.

The panelists believe the bill would put thousands in jeopardy.

“My biggest concern has to do with the rural hospitals that I don’t think will be able to sustain this blow,” said Dr. Carole Myers, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Tennessee. “Rural Tennesseans are already disadvantaged because they have poor access to care.”

(Photo: WKRN)

Dr. Myers is also concerned about the 1.5 million Tennesseans on TennCare, which is largely federally funded and the bill would cut that funding.

The state would then have to find money to bridge that gap or be forced to cut people from TennCare.

“States that have to have a balanced budget already operate with thin margins and have very strong competing demands around roads, education and other issues cannot sustain this,” she told News 2.

Bill Zechman, who was also a panelist, is a State Farm agent in McMinville. He believes the bill doesn’t make fiscal sense.

“There was no input from the public or from certain professions,” he said. “The math just doesn’t support promising that we can provide more health coverage at lower costs to more people.”

Also on Monday, the Sycamore Institute, a non-partisan think tank, released a study about the Senate’s health care bill.

“No policy is perfect,” said Executive Director Linda Berlind. “Regardless of what you think about the Affordable Care Act or the American Health Care Act or the new Senate proposal, there are going to be trade-offs for everyone.”

Berlind said premiums will go down for young, healthy participants.

“But the trade-off for that is that they will see an increase in premiums for the older and less healthy,” she said.

Click here for the Sycamore Institutes one-page summary and click here for its full report.