A Nashville Democrat wants to keep the city from closing General Hospital — by order of state law. A bill introduced this week would require that Nashville maintain a full-service public hospital.
If nothing else, Rep. Harold Love, Jr., says his proposal — co-sponsored by Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis — should broaden the current discussion beyond how much local tax money it takes to subsidize the safety-net facility.
"We're often able then to get more information from every department about the financial impact of that bill," he says. "So I think this will also be helpful as we have conversations from the state about the impact that Metro General has about the health care of the entire state and the city of Nashville specifically."
In November, Mayor Megan Barry proposed closing inpatient services and restructuring the hospital to focus on outpatient care for the uninsured. However, hospital officials have argued that closure would forfeit both state and federal funding that currently helps offset the cost of indigent patients to the city.
Rep. Love acknowledges he's frequently complained that the legislature too often big-foots cities like Nashville on what should be local issues. But he says this would be an appropriate use of state law.
"Normally, you would have a situation where the local government is not told by the state government what to do in these kind of situations," he says. "But I think that's where we must have some conversations."
Love was named to a committee organized by Meharry Medical College to redesign care for the uninsured in the city. However, he has said he doesn't see a way forward without a full-service hospital at the center.