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TennCare Enrollees, People with Disabilities, Medical Professionals, and other concerned Tennesseans have occupied Governor Bredesen’s Office.

GROUP STATEMENT: 
OUR CALL TO GOVERNOR BREDESEN

June 20th, 2005

WHO WE ARE

Randy Alexander speaks with Governor Bredesen. We are here as a group of concerned Tennesseans. Some of us are on TennCare, a few of us will be cut and all of us will be hurt by the cuts. Some of us are medical professionals and know the devastation that this will have on our patients. Some of us are people of faith who know that it is our duty to care for our fellow brothers and sisters when the are in harms way. We are people with different cultures, backgrounds, and abilities but all of us come with a common understanding that TennCare is essential for the most vulnerable in Tennessee.

WHAT WE WANT

We are here in the Governor’s Office, as afforded by the Constitution of Tennessee to assemble peaceably, to instruct the governor. We call on the Governor to:

  1. Halt all of the termination letters immediately, the process for cutting enrollment, and the reduction of benefit limits.
  2. Provide written agreement to resume talks before June 30th, to review reforms and revenue generation that could allow TennCare to be maintained for those who are proposed to be cut and receive benefit limits.
  1. That these talks happen in manner fully accessible to the public.
  2. That they engage enrollees and medical professionals chosen from and with in this participating group.

OUR RIGHTS

The Capitol and the Governor's office are owned by the people of Tennessee. We rely on our unalienable rights to reform government, to assemble peaceably, to instruct the Governor, and to apply for redress of grievances, which are all clearly recognized in Sections 1, 2, and 23 of the Tennessee Constitution ( Declaration of Rights ) and in Article XI, Section 16.

We will stay as long as we feel necessary, and return as often as we feel necessary, until the Governor provides us with a state policy that will fully protect the lives and rights of all TennCare recipients.

Matthew Leber, Director
Nashville Peace and Justice Center
1016 18th Avenue, South
Nashville, TN 37212
(Phone) 615 321 9066
(Fax) 615 320 8897
matt@nashvillepeacejustice.org 
www.nashvillepeacejustice.org

The Nashville Peace and Justice Center is a community based coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to creating a peaceful and just society.

WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU:

  1. Call, email or fax Governor Bredesen’s Office and offer your full support to your fellow Tennesseans that you stand with them and support the call to stop the Cuts. 

    “We know it is not too late to consider the dire needs of Tennesseans who are proposed to be cut. We stand with those who are in Gov Bredesen’s Office and who are exercising their rights affording to them by US and Tennessee Constitutions to peacefully assemble and instruct you as a representative of all Tennesseans.”

    We know you are courageous and it is not too late to do the right thing and to support the well-being of all Tennesseans. CORRECT TENNCARE, DON’T CUT IT.” 

    Governor Bredesen’s Office: Phil Bredesen

    Phone: 615.741.2001
    Fax: 615.532.9711
    Email: phil.bredesen@state.tn.us
  2. Offer your support

    Call NPJC and let us know how you can help. Or, that you want to help and we’ll let you know how. 321-9066
  3. CALL EVERYONE YOU KNOW AND SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT:

TOMORROW, TUESDAY, JUNE 21st 
Rally 5pm – 7pm, 8th & Church, In front of the TennCare Building
Parking on the same corner.

BACKGROUND ON SIT-IN:

TennCare Enrollees Glen Barnhill, Wanda Eubanks, Lori Smith and others who are scared of the impact of the cuts and benefit limits on their lives gathered with other enrollees, clergy, medical professionals and allies to join together to go straight to the Governor with a plea to not cut hundreds of thousands. 

WHO IS IN THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE:

  • Glen Barnhill – Nashville, Tennessee
    TennCare Enrollee, Incomplete quadriplegic
    Losing in-home health care
  • Wanda Eubanks – Nashville, Tennessee
    Nurse, TennCare enrollee receiving Benefit Limits
    Had Heart Surgery, requires 8 medications for heart, Thyroid, and blood pressure.
  • Rev. Henry Blaze – Nashville, Tennessee
    Pastor – Progressive Baptist Church
  • Dr. Ryan Hutchinson – Nashville, Tennessee
    Physician for hundreds of TennCare Enrollees
  • Don DeVaul – Westport, Tennessee
    TennCare Enrollee, Paralyzed Carpenter, Will be cut and is uninsurable 
  • Lori Smith – Nashville, Tennessee
    TennCare Enrollee (premium payer with full time job), Will be cut and is uninsurable
    Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus
  • Randy Alexander– Memphis, Tennessee
    ADAPT Member, Advocate for People with Disabilities and is Paraplegic
  • Lewis Patrick – Memphis, Tennessee
    ADAPT Member, Advocate for People with Disabilities and is Paraplegic
  • Michael Heinrich – Memphis, Tennessee
    ADAPT Member
  • Lisa Abel – Nashville, Tennessee
    TennCare Enrollee, Massage Therapist, Will be cut and is uninsurable 
    Skin cancer, gallstones, and uterine polyps
  • Michael Bennett – Chattanooga, Tennessee
    Student – Fisk University
    Has 3 family members on TennCare
  • Stan Davidson– Nashville, Tennessee
    TennCare Enrollee, Will be Cut
  • Pam Beziat– Nashville, Tennessee
    Hospice Care Nurse and TennCare Enrollee who will be cut
  • Karl Meyer – Nashville, Tennessee
    Local Carpenter, Son survived because of TennCare, girl friend will be cut from TennCare
  • David “Cowboy” Lutrell – Nashville, Tennessee
    TennCare enrollee will be cut and fears lack of health care will return Him to the streets
  • Howard Allen – Nashville, Tennessee
    Uninsured, Member of Nashville Homeless Power Project

And over a dozen others…

"...There are millions of poor people in this country who have very little, or even nothing, to lose. If they can be helped to take action together, they will do so with a freedom and a power that will be a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life..." 

-- The Trumpet of Conscience, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, 1967

Enrollees Refuse to Leave, Present List of Demands 

by Chris Lugo

(Nashville, June 20, 2005) On Monday morning at 10:00am, twenty TennCare Enrollees entered Governor Bredesen's Office with a list of demands, including a request to halt all of the termination of health insurance letters immediately and to provide written agreement to resume talks before June 30th and to review reforms and revenue generation that could allow TennCare to be maintained for those who are proposed to be cut and receive benefit limits. 

Additionally they have requested that these talks happen in manner fully accessible to the public and that they engage enrollees and medical professionals chosen from and with in this participating group. 

Glenn Barnhill, who uses a wheelchair and needs the assistance of a respirator to breath, came to the Governor's office with the help of his home health aid assistant. Mr. Barnhill said that he doesn't think that the state has its priorities straight. 

"I don't think that this is fair. They're going to put us in a situation where I will have to be put in a nursing home. If I go back to that I will have one nurse per thirty to sixty patients. I will be laying in my bed, flat on my back, gasping for breath, waiting for someone to help me. I feel that is inhumane. There has got to be something that could be done for this. TennCare has given me a lot of freedom and made my life worth living. What I can't understand is that there is more media coverage about poor neglected animals than there is for people that need medical care. The people that I am with feel that the State's priorities are really backwards, and that is what we want to see changed."

In a statement released by the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, regarding this morning's occupation of the Governor's office, organizers said that they were there because if the Governor does not address this crisis, people will die. 

"We are here as a group of concerned Tennesseans. Some of us are on TennCare, a few of us will be cut and all of us will be hurt by the cuts. Some of us are medical professionals and know the devastation that this will have on our patients. Some of us are people of faith who know that it is our duty to care for our fellow brothers and sisters when the are in harms way. We are people with different cultures, backgrounds, and abilities but all of us come with a common understanding that TennCare is essential for the most vulnerable in Tennessee."

Organizers, including civil rights veteran Karl Meyer and Nashville Peace and Justice Center Director Matt Leber, believe that the TennCare Enrollees have a right to occupy the Governor's office and demand that their needs be addressed. 

In a separate release, representatives of the group said that "The Capitol and the Governor's office are owned by the people of Tennessee. We rely on our unalienable rights to reform government, to assemble peaceably, to instruct the Governor, and to apply for redress of grievances, which are all clearly recognized in Sections 1, 2, and 23 of the Tennessee Constitution (Declaration of Rights) and in Article XI, Section 16. We will stay as long as we feel necessary, and return as often as we feel necessary, until the Governor provides us with a state policy that will fully protect the lives and rights of all TennCare recipients."

Enrollees say they will stay as long as needed, even under the risk of arrest. They are calling on supporters to contact the Governor's office. They are planning a rally for Tuesday night between 5pm and 7pm in front of the TennCare Building in Downtown Nashville. 

MCIL Journal Index 2005

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