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578,000 Tennesseans to be uninsured under AHCA

Passed on May 4 by a vote of 217 to 213 in the US House, the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA) will result in a projected 578,000 Tennesseans becoming uninsured. The Act is nicknamed variously as Trumpcare, Ryancare, and Republicare. Currently, 1.5 million Tennesseans get coverage through TennCare, our state’s Medicaid program – also on the chopping block if the repeal becomes law. In contrast, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as ObamaCare, allowed 526,000 Tennesseans to get health insurance.

A few Tennesseans will retain their current healthcare insurance. The AHCA contains a loophole that would leave Obamacare intact for a small group of people such as members of Congress and their staffs.

An additional 1.2 million Tennesseans with pre-existing conditions may lose coverage or see their premiums skyrocket under Trumpcare. Pre-existing conditions that will force Tennesseans into high-risk pools – if they can afford insurance – include: allergies, Alzheimer’s/dementia, arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, obesity, and pregnancy. Premiums could reach as high as $25,700 per year for people in high-risk pools, according to a report from AARP. Obamacare prohibited discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

According to a Brookings Institution analysis, an additional 2 million Americans will lose employer coverage under TrumpCare. Also for those who have health care from their employers, Trumpcare allows states to define which benefits are “essential,” allowing companies to opt for the state with the least demanding guidelines — picking one that allows, for example, annual and/or lifetime limits on individual coverage. This could deny coverage for a major accident or a premature birth. Obamacare provides a list of essential benefits that must be included in any plan, including pregnancy and emergency care. About 178 million Americans had employer-provided health care in 2015.

Analyzing the earlier and more moderate Republican healthcare proposal, the Congressional Budget Office found that TrumpCare would push 24 million people out of health care by 2026 with fourteen million of them losing Medicaid. The legislation passed will likely increase further the uninsured to what some project to be as many as 29 million. In January, President Trump promised, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.” While campaigning, he also swore he wouldn’t cut Medicaid.

Cutting nearly $900 million in Medicaid funding will harm programs for people with disabilities, and could severely weaken special education programs in public schools, school superintendents say.

Approximately 17,000 children of Tennesseans currently on their parent’s health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old may lose coverage.

The legislation passed by the House includes the MacArthur amendment which allows insurers to charge older people more. The AARP, the US’s powerful senior-citizen lobbying group, estimates that insurance costs for its members who aren’t yet covered by Medicare could rise up to $8,400 a year.

All seven Republicans representing Tennessee voted for Trump care. They were: Phil Roe (R–Johnson City), John Duncan Jr. (R–Knoxville), Chuck Fleischmann (R–Ooltewah), Scott DesJarlais (R–Jasper), Diane Black (R–Gallatin), Marsha Blackburn (R–Brentwood), and David Kustoff (R–Memphis). Tennessee’s two Democrats – Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis – voted no.

The legislation is now in the US Senate and you can contact our Senators below to share your views.
Sen. Lamar Alexander
Sen. Bob Corker

Rep. Marsha Blackburn exaggerates outsiders at town hall to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer

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