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Rural hospitals across state face uncertain future

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee's rural hospitals are laying off workers and reducing services as they try to cope with the funding changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act and the political battles that surround expanding TennCare.

The Tennessean reports the federal health law reduces reimbursements to Tennessee hospitals by $5.6 billion over the next 10 years. That money was supposed to be replaced through expanding TennCare, the state Medicaid program.

But Republican leaders in the state legislature oppose expansion, saying they doubt the federal government will stand by its obligation. Gov. Bill Haslam has been trying to design a framework that will satisfy both the Obama administration and fellow Republicans.

The Tennessee Hospital Association lobbied unsuccessfully for expansion last year. Now it is organizing a grassroots campaign to fight for expansion.

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