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AUTHOR: Jake Lowary

Eleven state Republican lawmakers are sending a letter to Tennessee’s congressional delegation demanding they keep in mind rural community hospitals as they negotiate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Washington.

Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, is leading the effort and is joined by some of the more conservative members of the legislature who say that rural hospitals might have to pick up $88 billion-worth of care in 2019 as estimates suggest nearly 30 million people could be left uninsured under the plan.

“What I want to see is that the voices I speak for in East Tennessee are heard,” Faison said.

Specifically, Faison said the replacement needs to include re-investment into Medicare and Medicaid. The letter says the cuts to Medicare “made sense” at the time the ACA was passed, but Medicare was “robbed” over the last several years.

“They believed all their life, when their paycheck went in, their money went to their Medicare,” he said.

The ACA places penalties on hospitals for Medicare patients who returned for care within 30 days of a procedure.

Faison has a very rural district in the eastern part of the state, and said a lot of his constituents are worried that the people who voted for Trump and the Tennessee delegation aren’t getting fair representation in the ongoing discussions.

“Instead of just relying on rich and powerful voices to speak in the halls and decision-making in D.C., allow the people that actually put Trump there to speak,” he said.

Estimates contained in the letter say that nationwide, one in nine jobs is connected in some way to a hospital, and, in Tennessee, hospitals support more than 105,000 jobs and impact more than 238,000 in some way.

“The current proposal has some issues, and what they really need to focus on is giving people back their money,” he said.