Changes mean thousands to be dropped from Cover Tennessee - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

Obamacare changes mean thousands to be dropped from Cover Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The Affordable Care Act is supposed to provide health coverage for people who desperately need it, but in Tennessee it's going to cause the opposite to happen for more than 28,000 people.

Some of those people were removed from the TennCare rolls about eight years ago after drastic cuts were made to the program, but then re-enrolled for at least minimum health coverage by various safety net programs that were set up by the state.

Now, they will be losing their coverage again because four state programs are either going away completely or changing the rules about who qualifies.

Tennessee's safety net programs either don't meet federal minimum standards of coverage or the state feels they're no longer needed.

One of the programs, called AccessTN, has been a lifeline for Sandra Flanigan. She has leukemia and a pacemaker, and some of her treatments cost $20,000 every few weeks.

She gets insurance from the state-sponsored program for people who are uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions.

"It's a blessing because I could not come up with that myself," Flanigan said.

AccessTN is drastically cutting enrollment, and Flanigan is one of only 700 people who will keep their coverage after Dec. 31. And it's only because her income as a pastor's wife is so low. Another 1,900 people are being cut off AccessTN completely.

Those safety net programs are a casualty of Obamacare.

When the Affordable Care Act was created in Washington, DC, it was assumed that states would expand their Medicaid coverage and that would cover the poorest people - some of those insured under the state's safety net programs.

But Tennessee is one of the states that declined to expand Medicaid, which is the program known in Tennessee as TennCare.

Along with the AccessTN cuts, CoverRX is cutting 10,000 members and CoverKids is cutting 650 members.

Some of the people cut might qualify for coverage under Obamacare's new insurance marketplace. The trouble is getting on the website to find out. So far, high demand has overloaded the federal website, creating trouble for those wanting to search for possible coverage.

"That would be great of Obamacare," Flanigan said. "But thus far, I can't even get information about it."

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