How many times have I heard someone say, “No one in this country goes without health care? The emergency room has to treat you.” No, the emergency room has to stabilize you but neither it nor urgent care nor the RAM clinics can provide true health care.

In the last decade, Tennessee has lost 14 percent of its rural physicians and 18 percent of its rural hospitals. An estimated 2.5 million Tennessee residents have insufficient access to medical care. All of that mostly because of its refusal to expand Medicaid. Tennesseans are dying because of it.

Now figure in the Ballad merger. Any physician who can is retiring. Nurses are quitting right and left. Facilities are being downgraded. Services have stopped.

My own experience is that although Ballad knows the ACA provides for a free yearly mammogram, and although they know I was covered by an ACA policy, and although the mammogram was offered at a free screening event, they are still attempting to bill me for the mammogram to the point of collections.

They know better. But evidently they were counting on that $200 to pay the CEO’s bonus, or perhaps Rusty Crowe’s consultation fee.

It is time for Tennessee representatives to represent their constituents, not their corporations.

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