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Thousands in Tennessee left out of health care protection

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Deborah Merriman, left, and her daughter, Tabitha Trulock, right, had hoped that they would get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but are unable to afford even the lowest level catastrophic plan. Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press Deborah Merriman, left, and her daughter, Tabitha Trulock, right, had hoped that they would get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but are unable to afford even the lowest level catastrophic plan. Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press
CLEVELAND, TN (Times Free Press) -

Deborah Merriman is struggling to understand why she's been left out of the great Medicaid expansion that occurred across half the nation on New Year's Day.

"I'm in a wheelchair, and I'm going blind," the 51-year-old Cleveland, TN., woman said. "I've been trying to get on disability. … It's not easy. If you don't have health insurance, you can't even get in to see a doctor."

Merriman and her 29-year-old daughter, Peggy, both unemployed, were counting on help to get insurance coverage from the federal Affordable Care Act when major provisions of the law took effect Jan. 1.

That didn't happen. They are among some 161,000 low- or no-income adults in Tennessee, 191,000 in Alabama, 400,000 in Georgia and nearly 4.9 million nationwide who have fallen into what the Kaiser Family Foundation, which provided the estimates, calls a "coverage gap."

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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