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DAY SEVEN: “We are dedicated.”

Weekend isolated in Governor Bredesen’s office helps to focus the fight to save TennCare.

Don DeVaul. Photo by TPJC(NASHVILLE, June 26, 2005) “I will lose the healthcare I’ve got and I don’t know what happens with the governor’s plan,” said Don DeVaul of Westport Tennessee, “but I’m here with other demonstrators for all the TennCare enrollees and people with low-incomes all over the US who are facing cuts to Medicaid.

Activists have occupied Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen’s office since Monday, June 20, 2005 remaining overnight with support from others outside the Legislative complex. Mr. DeVaul spoke Saturday night on the only cell phone. The protestors are locked inside the closed office building; they must be escorted by state police to the bathroom and were not allowed any food or water.

“We are living on ketchup and crackers,” jokes DeVaul. “It really is not that bad, but we have more ketchup than anything.”

TennCare is the Tennessee Medicaid program that offers additional healthcare coverage beyond the federal minimal requirements. Governor Bredesen’s “plan” is to return to the federal minimum, terminating healthcare to over 300 thousand citizens.

“We want people to come down here and spend some time in the governor’s office,” said DeVaul. “We want people to fill up this hall, to show Bredesen that killing his own citizens will look poor on his political résumé.”

These massive cuts will mean hundreds of millions of dollars will stop flowing into Tennessee’s healthcare system from the federal budget. Rather than “savings” the TennCare demise will result in less total money from the state account, but more state funds for acute and emergency care for untreated and uninsured citizens.

Governor's office crowded with activists, press and staff. Photo by TPJC.“My quality of life will be destroyed,” said DeVaul who is considered uninsurable. “My choice next month will be between food and medications because the governor is proposing only covering four scripts (prescription medications). I have seven scripts, all prescribed by a doctor; next month some bureaucrat will determine what meds I get.”

Around 9:30 pm the nightly candlelight vigil began. Don said that about 30 to 40 people had gathered outside in support of those occupying Gov. Bredesen’s office. For the first time the supporters displayed signs also to entertain those inside. Don reports one sign says: “I survived Bredesen’s boot camp.”

“Bredesen is not trustworthy,” said Mr. DeVaul who has met privately with Gov. Bredesen and has seen him frequently and met with him since the take-over on Monday. “His body language, smirk, eyes that are cold as ice, all make you feel he is insincere. His staff will come to his rescue because he doesn’t really know what he is talking about … He treats us like animals that cannot give back.”

MCIL Journal Index 2005

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