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The Memphis Center for Independent Living Journal


DAY NINE: Medical Professionals back demonstrators.

TennCare essential to healthcare of citizens.

(NASHVILLE, June 28, 2005) Medical professionals joined the activists who have occupied the governor’s office for more than a week to demand an end to disqualifying TennCare enrollees and open discussions with Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s health care plan. This week the governor will disenroll 323,000 citizens from their healthcare coverage as he attempts to end the TennCare program and replace it with federal Medicaid.

"The brave people who have occupied the governor’s office are fighting for their human rights.” said John Lozier of Healthcare for the Homeless. “They’re fighting for their very lives. They’re fighting for their neighbors, and that includes all of us.” 

There has been a constant peaceful, non-violent occupation of Bredesen’s office, day and night, for a week. From the first day of the take-over the coalition of activists have held the “common understanding that TennCare is essential for the most vulnerable in Tennessee.” Medical professionals join a wide and diverse collection of citizens that oppose Bredesen’s changes.

Randy Alexander, Louis Patrick and Don DeVaul. photo by Sharon Cobb.

Randy Alexander, Louis Patrick and Don DeVaul. Photo by Sharon Cobb.

Gov. Bredesen had promised to fix TennCare, but has broken his promise and is proposing only minimal Medicaid coverage. Medicaid is the federal program for medical and health-related services for people with limited income. State funds are matched by federal funds if the state meets conditions. Generally, each Tennessee dollar is matched by $1.70 in federal funds.

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.

There is a nightly candlelight vigil began outside the legislative complex in support of the activists inside. Typically about 30 to 40 people gather to show  support of those occupying Gov. Bredesen’s office. 

- Tim Wheat

The SCLC is proposing a 10 Point Plan to Save Lives:

1. Control drug use and abuse by good management and using computer technology to identify bad prescribing patterns of doctors.

2. Requiring the use of the least costly drugs that will effectively treat patients.

3. Holding managed care organizations accountable.

4. Managing the diseases of the 51,000 TennCare enrollees (4%) who use 47% of resources.

5. Re-bidding the Preferred Drug List to include behavioral drugs.

6. Introduce higher 'sin' taxes to discourage use of alcohol and tobacco.

7. Calling on employers to provide good, affordable health care for employees.

8. Increase premiums and co-pays for those who can afford it.

9. Adopt insurance reform and not allow companies to deny care to the "uninsurable".

10. Call On President Bush, Senator First and Senator Alexander to obtain federal help.

MCIL Journal Index 2005

Follow the TennCare Sit-in

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© 2005 Tim Wheat