Reaction To President Bush's Veto Of Health Insurance Plan

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) In East Tennessee, and across the country, the protesters are out, or soon will be, after President bush vetoed a plan they claim short-changes health care for children and the poor.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd looks at what's at stake for hospitals, families, and your wallet.

Short-term, lawmakers tell us the veto won't hurt families already getting help.

Long-term: The math gets more complicated

No question Mom was taking 9-month-old Keiara to Children's Hospital to check on her fever.

Juanita Maples says, "If it weren't for TennCare, would there be any way to pay for the coverage? My job does offer it but it would be pretty hard."

Keiara's Mom won't lose her TennCare coverage.

But the 35 Billion dollar bill President Bush vetoed could have brought health coverage to 160,000 more children in Tennessee alone.

The President says, "the intent of the program was to focus on poorer children, not adults or families earning up to 83,000 dollars a year."

Keith Goodwin, with East Tennessee Children's Hospital says, "long term the loss of those S Chip Dollars would impact ultimately our ability to provide coverkids support throughout the state."

The problem, Hospital Administrators say is the bill covered more than simply covering more kids.

Craig Becker, with Tennessee Hospital Association says, "there's a payment in there for charity care that hospitals provide."

Tennessee Hospitals could have recouped 30 million a year
for the next five years.

Goodwin continues, "it doesn't devastate this institution. We're about a $200 million a year business."

Last budget year, UT Med Center and Covenant Hospitals each spent more than 22 million dollars treating folks who couldn't pay.

Saint Mary's about half that.

Baptist, a little more than a third.

Goodwin says, "it is a piece of funding support that helps us provide the work that we're already providing."

Such as care for Keiara.

"I switched jobs because the previous job did not offer insurance and the one I have now does."

The problem, Keiara's Dad says is he hasn't worked long enough for the coverage to kick in.

Goodwin says, "I think there will be a compromised reached. There's too much pressure nationally for the President to stick to his very hard line indefinitely."

President Bush has said he's willing to spend more.

But critics claim, not enough to cover rising costs.

But the head of the Tennessee Hospitals Association says the real debate is who will pay when.

Hospitals aren't eating the costs of providing charity care, he says, they're passing them along to the patients who can pay.


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