How Health Care Reform is affecting Tennessee

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- With the Supreme Court upholding much of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Thursday morning, many in Tennessee are wondering how the decision affects them.

In a statement released shortly after the verdict, Gov. Bill Haslam said his biggest problem with the Affordable Care Act was that it "takes away the flexibility for states to encourage healthy behavior, will cost Tennessee hundreds of millions of dollars, and does nothing to solve the crisis of the cost of health care in America."

Cost concerns are another reason Haslam said he wants the law struck down.

“The Supreme Court may have failed to declare the entire health-care law unconstitutional, but it is still an historic mistake that expanded a health-care system we already knew we couldn’t afford," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

“This is a sad day for health care, personal freedom and those opposed to the intrusion of big government into their lives. This was a law that we did not ask for, do not need and cannot afford," said Rep. Scott DeJarlais, M.D. (R-TN)

Despite serious resistance among Republican lawmakers to lay the groundwork for the program, though, the Republican Governorsaid it has made steady progress on establishing the health insurance exchange required by the law, though he told reporters this week that final legislative approval can wait until January.

"There are no more excuses for delay," states Beth Uselton, Executive Director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign. "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and it is time for state lawmakers to start taking responsibility for ensuring that Tennessee families have the rights and protections guaranteed to them by the law."

The U.S. Census shows about 15 percent of Tennesseans didn't have health insurance in 2010.

Several provisions of the Health Care Act have already gone into effect. According to the statistics provided by the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), nearly 800,000 people with Medicare were able to get free preventive services or a free annual wellness visit. Eighty-two thousand Medicare recipients were able to save just under $600 per person on average because of a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs.

By the end of last year, 59,000 children under 26 were able to stay on their parents insurance plans. Almost 900 previously uninsured Tennesseans were able to get coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

The HHS credited over $15 million in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund with ensuring all Tennesseans will have "longer, more productive lives." It also said the state has received almost $47 million for to build more community health centers and maintain current ones.

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