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Legislators discuss health care reform, answer questions

Health care was the main focus of discussion at the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce annual legislative breakfast held on Friday, March 15.
MSHA President and CEO Dennis Vonderfecht lead the breakfast with a presentation centered on the topic of Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act.
“I thought this topic was very appropriate since we have the legislative forum this morning,” Vonderfecht said.
“It’s an important issue that I’m sure is going to be before the General Assembly very soon. It involves all hospitals and health care systems in the state. Tennessee and all of them are very supportive of this particular issue and that is expansion of the Medicaid in this state.”
Vonderfecht said the issue is tied into the Affordable Care Act, which is also called ObamaCare. Decisions were made at a federal level, Vonderfecht said in order to provide more insurance coverage.
“The hospital industry decided that in exchange for coverage of 32 million people in the United States who did not have health insurance at that point in time, we would give up $155 billion of reimbursement over the next 10 years,” Vonderfecht said
Vonderfecht said the deal was made with the notion that those individuals would have insurance for the first time and hospitals could make up the difference with additional revenues for providing them with care.
“About half of those 32 million people in the country who were uninsured would be covered through health insurance exchanges,” Vondefecht said.
The health insurance exchange, Vonderfecht said,
“Over the last number of months, each state is having to deal with this,” Vonderfecht said.
He said Tennessee is still deciding what to do.
“We want the state to expand this,” Vonderfecht said. “We have a lot of uninsured people who would qualify under the expanded program that we could get some coverage.”
Vonderfecht’s point was that since the hospital industry agreed to forfeit revenues, the Medicaid expansion would insure more individuals and return some of the lost money to health care providers.

For the remainder of this article please see the March 19, 2013 edition of The Erwin Record.