DAY TWENTY: Governor’s Office Occupation Going Strong Starting Weekend Three.
Thousands appeal the Tennessee healthcare termination process.
(NASHVILLE, July 9, 2005) Activist’s begin the third weekend stationed outside Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen’s office demanding that TennCare disenrollment stop and the governor meet to discuss his Medicaid plan. A meeting with Bredesen’s lawyer after testimony in the Grier case Friday did not come any closer to ending the occupation.
“I saw desperation in his eyes,” said Don DeVaul about the meeting with Bob Cooper, the governor’s attorney. “He seemed disappointed and surprised that we stuck to our demands. Our group has grown and is becoming more mature. We feel Tennesseans will wake-up and join us as the termination letters go out.”
The Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) has already sent out about 19,000 termination letters and will be sending them out at about two thousand a day. This past Wednesday evening was the deadline for returning what people have been calling the ‘brown forms’ to determine if citizens are eligible to keep healthcare coverage. Nearly two hundred thousand eligibility packets were mailed out and DHS reported that it received 127,154 by the deadline.
“Glen got his termination papers the other day,” said DeVaul, “after he was promised directly by the governor he would not lose his coverage. We caught Bredesen in another lie.”
Many Tennesseans are not accepting termination. More than 5,000 people have appealed to the Tennessee Department of Human Services, challenging the state's decision to drop them from TennCare. There is a twenty day window to submit an appeal where TennCare enrollees coverage will continue, however, if they lose the appeal, terminated enrollees may have to reimburse the state for services they receive during the appeal process.
Mail your Appeal to: Tennessee Department of Human Services, Division of Appeals and Hearings, P.O. Box 198996, Nashville, Tenn. 37219-8996 or
Fax the appeal: 1-866-355-6136.
Phone: the Family Assistance Service Center, 1-866-311-4287.
Activists outside the governor’s office are demanding the termination process stop. The occupation that started June 20th has continued day and night for twenty days to spotlight the state’s massive retreat from its commitment to healthcare and the governor’s broken promise to fix TennCare and to avoid disenrollment. Lisa Abell, one of the organizers who will be spending the weekend in the hallway outside the governor’s office, said that about fifty different citizens had been by the demonstration this week to show support.
“It’s been an endurance test,” said Abell. “We have been passing the leadership responsibilities around between the volunteers, some have no experience with political protest ever in their lives. It has been an adventure but also a way for people to show their power. We have gotten some great idea from the people.”
State troopers have been stationed in the building by the governor and guard the door to his office. The protestors are set apart from the general public when the building is open by the donated food they have stored in the open. Some have t-shirts that read: PHIL’S CUTS WILL KILL, and they pass out literature about the demonstration.
“I’m doing fine. I’m excited about the protest,” said Graham Grubb a former TennCare enrollee locked in the state building for the weekend. “I’m busy with home-life and a job like everyone else, but I feel it is important to be out here and to be doing something.”
- Tim Wheat