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TN Comes up $270 Million Short – What Now?

October 11, 2007

Nashville, TN – The challenge for Tennessee is to find a way to make up for a $270 million loss, and preventive health care may be the key. The money is missing from the federal government's approval of TennCare this week, and it would have been used primarily to cover hospital costs for Tennesseans without insurance.

Shelby Tabeling with the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare says one way to scale back hospital costs is to make sure people have access to affordable, preventive care.

"With regular checkups and preventive care, emergency room visits should decrease, and thereby reduce the amount of money needed for charity care."

Tennessee is coming up short on federal funding because of a new cap that supporters of the cuts say will make the state and hospitals more accountable.

The state will still be able to cover some hospital costs when patients can't pay, even with less funding. Tabeling says that's important, because the cost of unpaid care is often passed along to others through price increases for services, which can be a vicious cycle.

Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - TN