Every night more Tennesseans join the overnight occupation of Gov. Bredesen’s office.
(NASHVILLE, June 24, 2005) Twelve people slept overnight in the governor’s office to highlight the demand that Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee meet publicly and clarify the huge healthcare cuts he has proposed. Bredesen was elected to office promising to fix TennCare, the Tennessee Medicaid program, but without any public involvement, the governor has broken his promise and is proposing only minimal Medicaid coverage in Tennessee.
“We believe in what we are doing,” said Randy Alexander of Tennessee ADAPT from the governor’s office, “that belief is growing. More and more people are here everyday and more people every night. It is a fantastic feeling after a hard day to see fifty to sixty people outside the window holding a candlelight vigil.”
The growing group is making plans to stay the weekend and will use the time to build support outside of Nashville. On Monday, the state affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dwight Montgomery, will join the demonstrators and spend the night in Bredesen’s office.
Today Governor Bredesen spoke at the National Press Club Newsmaker Forum in Washington DC about TennCare. His examples where totally unrealistic and he gave no details about the changes he is imposing on TennCare. The governor used the national stage to spin his massive cuts to the system as “the program that I’m having to trim.”
“So three thoughts for some strengthening of the fundamentals of Medicaid,” said Bredesen. “Everybody pays something, pay first for what is most important, pay for what works.”
The governor gave no details specific to TennCare on how these clichés would impact the citizens. Bredesen clearly has not attended to the simple and straightforward principles that would make the TennCare viable; his naive speech only seemed to suggest a return to Medicaid would be progressive.
Yesterday, the governor reportedly called the events in his office “a circus,” apparently referring to the TennCare demonstration. Activists spending the night in the office however see the occupation and growing support more as democracy in action and are irritated that the governor has such a shallow view of the citizens that elected him.
“If the governor wants to engage in name calling,” said Alexander, “we will just take the high road.”
STATEMENT OF DEMANDS FROM THE DEMONSTRATORS:
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:
- Halt all of the termination letters immediately, the process for cutting enrollment, and the reduction of benefit limits.
- 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.
- That these talks happen in manner fully accessible to the public.
- That they engage enrollees and medical professionals chosen from and with in this participating group.