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Federal officials awarded a partial grant that would give $80 million to help financially struggling hospitals in Tennessee.

After a request from Tennessee's congressional delegation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a waiver that would allow a handful of hospitals in the state to receive payments for the services they provide to the poor and uninsured.

The grant's funding replaces federal dollars the state did not receive from another federal program after the formation of TennCare in 1994.

Tennessee is the only state in the country without guaranteed access to Medicaid's disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program, which gives hospitals funding based on the number of patients they serve who are uninsured or in poverty.

The state will receive Essential Access Hospital payments in lieu of the DSH funding.

"These dollars help Tennessee's hospitals provide care for Tennesseans who need help the most," said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. "There's no reason in the world why Tennessee should be the only state without this kind of payment. I'll continue to work with Sen. (Bob) Corker on a permanent solution."

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