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Health Care Uncertainty Trickles Down to Local Leaders

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While the U.S. Senate debates the future of health care, local leaders are left with uncertainty about how to handle their community health needs. (Sai Dhanush AV/flickr)
While the U.S. Senate debates the future of health care, local leaders are left with uncertainty about how to handle their community health needs. (Sai Dhanush AV/flickr)
July 27, 2017

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – While the U.S. Senate battles over its version of a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act - uncertainty about the future of health care is impacting local leaders.

The topic is among those being discussed this week at the National Association of Counties' annual conference in Columbus, Ohio. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell says with the nation's counties investing $80 billion annually in community health - concern about what happens in Washington transcends party lines.

"We certainly have different political representations in our group, but yet we all face the same issue of how are we going to address health care going forward," he says.

Approximately two-thirds of the nation's 2,800 local public-health departments are county-based. Medicaid also is key to counties in Tennessee because of the state's growing opioid epidemic since it's the largest single funder for mental-health services and substance-abuse treatment.

Luttrell adds that with so many unknowns about the Trump administration's policies, it makes it a challenge for local leaders to know how to proceed.

"There's a tremendous amount of uncertainty about what support and what priorities will be coming out of Washington," he notes. "The Trump administration is still getting its feet under the table, so to speak. We're still looking for the guidance that you expect to see from Washington."

TennCare is the state of Tennessee's Medicaid program and is funded by both the state and federal governments. The program is administered by the state with federal oversight.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN