(WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton has a warning about area hospitals. If people do not sign up for Affordable Care, local hospitals and the currently insured will end up paying for it.
Local hospitals receive millions of dollars in funding to service the uninsured. But indigent care is based on the premise that some people have no access to health care.
The mayor says that funding will be nonexistent when Affordable Care coverage begins in January.
Monday, President Obama told America his staff will fix the HealthCare.gov signup problems.
"Let me remind everybody that The Affordable Care Act is not just a website," said President Barack Obama during a news conference Monday.
Meanwhile, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton has concerns about what will happen to local hospitals if the uninsured do not sign up in time.
"You're going to have folks losing jobs," he warned.
Funding for the uninsured under the current model will dry up and hospitals and the currently insured may be left holding the bag.
"The indigent care funds many of our hospitals are now getting will not be available once the Affordable Care Act comes in," Wharton explained.
He says January is critical.
"It's imperative, particularly in Memphis," he added.
That is because more than one-quarter of the Memphis population lives in poverty.
In Shelby COunty, 140,000 people are uninsured. Many of them depend on the Regional Medical Center (The MED) as the go-to hospital for trauma care.
The latest statistics shows 26 percent of the people who check into The MED, which serves five area states, are uninsured.
"The folks are still going to get sick and if they don't enroll, they're still going to pile into the emergency rooms," said Wharton.
The mayor says he is taking every public opportunity to urge people to sign up for the plan, specifically those age 18 to 21, who are less likely to have insurance.
"Those are the ones that have to get enrolled in the plan to make it work. Plus, the coverage in case they do become ill," said Mayor Wharton.
Christ Community Health Centers is helping people sign up for the Affordable Care Act at all six Memphis locations. You can make an appointment to register by calling (901) 260-8500.