U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen told a small group of activists Monday that it is "doubtful" that The Med's salvation will come from Washington. He said funds are more likely to come from Tennessee state government and neighboring states Arkansas and Mississippi whose indigent residents use The Med.
At the same meeting, Dr. Arthur Sutherland, a retired cardiologist and head of the Tennessee Chapter of Physicians for National Health Program, said The Med is likely to get some kind of stop-gap funding to stay open but still needs long-term help from passage of the national health care bill.
"Medicare for all is the way to go," said Sutherland.
The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center hosted the luncheon to drum up support for the bill, which Cohen and most Democrats support. In his brief remarks, said Republican opposition in the Tennessee delegation is all but certain because it is aimed at weakening President Barack Obama.
Other speakers included Arkansas state senator Keith Ingram of West Memphis, who said Arkansas will pay an additional $3.5 million to The Med this year, and Ingram hopes to raise that to $7 million.
"Arkansas doesn't want a free lunch, we want to pay our share," he said.
The board of The Med has recommended closing the emergency room in February. That would send indigent patients needed ER services to other hospitals. Methodist is in the medical center while Baptist is not, but Sutherland said "nobody will escape this if The Med were to close."
However, Sutherland said closing The Med is unlikely because "there's probably enough pressure to get more stop-gap funding." The Shelby County Commission has appointed an ad hoc committee to study the needs of The Med. It is scheduled to meet Thursday at 4 p.m.
On another matter, Cohen asked for a show of hands on the issue of sending more troops to Afghanistan. Only one person in the audience of about 25 people favored sending more troops.