A Gallatin Coalition for Insure Tennessee, in partnership with the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC), will sponsor a “Counting the Cost for Tennessee Communities” meeting on Monday, July 13, beginning at 6pm at First United Methodist Church, 149 W. Main Street in Gallatin. The coalition will provide background information about the health care coverage gap in Tennessee, and collect information from participants about the health care environment in the Gallatin community.

The meeting is the second stop in a statewide “Counting the Cost for Tennessee Communities” tour coordinated by TJC. The project comes after the state legislature failed to pass Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan that would provide health coverage to more than 280,000 citizens and critical funding to support the state’s hospitals. TJC aims to compile information provided by Tennesseans across the state and deliver a detailed report at the end of the summer.

TJC staff and local volunteers in each community are collaborating to conduct informational meetings with residents. The organization is particularly seeking information from those who do not have access to health insurance and are living in the health care “gap,” those employed by local hospitals at risk, and those who have health insurance but are in danger of losing care provided by local hospitals at risk.

In Sumner County alone, data shows that 7,555 adults are in the coverage gap. A new TJC analysis of hospital budget reports from the past five years shows that of all Sumner County citizens who were admitted to local hospitals in 2013, more than 12 percent were admitted to a hospital with funding challenges.

Other meetings to be conducted throughout the state this summer include:

* July 16, Shelbyville

* August 3, Knoxville

* August 6, Kingsport

* August 11, Morristown

* August 25, Memphis

Specific meeting locations and times are currently being confirmed.

“We’ve heard lawmakers who are either opposed to or have not taken a position on Insure Tennessee say time and again that they need more information about the plan’s impact,” said TJC Executive Director Michele Johnson. “Our goal is to meet Tennesseans in their communities and hear from them firsthand. We want to collect real stories about access to health care, vulnerable hospitals and the impact on local economies. Refusing a health care plan that won’t cost the state a thing is already costing communities dearly, and we expect the data will comprehensively document this fact.”

Insure Tennessee hit a roadblock this past legislative session when seven state senators voted to stall the plan and refused to allow a vote by the full legislature. The defeat came days after a poll released by Middle Tennessee State University showed that most Tennesseans, 66 percent, knew little about Insure Tennessee, and that only 11 percent of those who are familiar with the plan oppose it. Since then multiple polls have shown similar results, including one from Vanderbilt University released in May showing that 64 percent of Tennesseans are in favor of Insure Tennessee.

Insure Tennessee is a conservative plan that would help more than 280,000 Tennesseans living in the health care “gap” gain access to coverage. People in the “gap” are those who don’t qualify for the state’s Medicaid program, known as TennCare, but can’t afford private insurance. Those in the “gap” include working families, students and more than 24,000 military veterans.

The state’s entire health care system is also vulnerable without federal funds, especially its rural hospitals. Hospitals throughout the state are at risk of budget shortfalls that could result in service reductions or closing altogether. If passed, Insure Tennessee would direct $2.7 million of federal funds every day to support the state’s health care system.

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