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DAY TWENTY-FIVE: Bredesen Meets One Demand.

Phil BredesenGovernor reinstates Private Duty Nursing for vent users as his approval rate falls and pressure builds.

“I’m not going to cut their services I’m just going to put then in the nursing home.” 

- Phil Bredesen (June 16, 2005)

(NASHVILLE, July 14, 2005) Information from the state of Tennessee website seems to confirm that Governor Phil Bredesen has restored home services to ventilator users. Unconfirmed Internet reports state that the Private Duty Nursing category of service will not end July 31, 2005.

The State of Tennessee “Benefit Changes Information Sheet” on the official TennCare website briefly explains changes to TennCare Enrollees that will become effective August 1, 2005. It lists Private Duty Nursing as one of the services to be terminated, but has an asterisk that further explains: “TennCare WILL cover ventilator services (emphasis in original document).”

Bredesen’s reluctance to meet the demands of demonstrators outside his office has swayed community opinion against the governor. A Survey USA poll released Monday shows that the governor’s approval rating has fallen below 50%. The governor suggested his approval rating was in the seventies a few months ago. 

"I think there's no question that, as we work through things like these TennCare issues, that people are troubled,” said Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee. “But I will put my head down and work through it."

The 25-day-long protest outside the governor’s office is demanding Bredesen meet openly about TennCare and stop the massive disenrollment. Evidence in the Grier case over the past two weeks has shown that Bredesen has not sought tactics to save money and stop disqualifying citizens from the healthcare plan. The governor has launched his own untested Medicaid proposal at the cost of over 290,000 Tennesseans healthcare.

Randy AlexanderYesterday in the Grier case, Michigan Medicaid officials testified that their state was able to save money by requiring doctors to seek permission before prescribing certain drugs. Michigan has no limit on prescriptions; however, Tennessee is proposing a limit of five scripts – a significantly different program. Comparative cost savings of Michigan will not translate to Tennessee the evidence seems to show. 

Last week testimony illustrated that the Tennessee plan would actually be more expensive. By providing less than adequate care the state of Tennessee will spend more on healthcare, particularly in the long-term; additionally, the medial needs will be more expensive. 

Today, Dr. Dwight R. Montgomery, President of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference Memphis Chapter, along with a team of SCLC Memphis Chapter representatives joined with members of the clergy and community of Nashville to protest Governor Phil Bredesen's TennCare Cuts. They called on Senator Bill Frist to intervene in the TennCare Crisis. Dr. Montgomery has already sent a letter to Senator Bill Frist requesting the Senator's involvement in the TennCare Crisis. While in Nashville, Dr. Montgomery will hand deliver a letter to Gov. Bredesen's Office concerning the TennCare issue.

Addition from Randy Alexander:

Commitment To Save TennCare and End the Institutional Bias in Tennessee

WHEREAS thousands of people with disabilities and older Tennesseans currently need or will need long term services and supports to live in the community; and 

WHEREAS the current long term care system is fragmented, overly medicalized, bureaucratic, expensive with an institutional bias that unnecessarily places people with disabilities and older Tennesseans in nursing homes and other institutions; and 

WHEREAS the cuts to TennCare will only increase thousands of people with disabilities and older Tennesseans to be forced into nursing homes and other institutions; and

WHEREAS the Supreme Court in the Olmstead vs LC  decision ruled in 1999 that people have the right to services in the most integrated setting; and 

WHEREAS the American public overwhelmingly wants long term care services and supports in their own home and communities; and 

WHEREAS the reform of the long term care system must be a cooperative partnership between the federal government, the states and the disability/older community, 


A) Support the Citizens to Save TennCare protest currently in your state capitol and their demands, and

B) The institutional bias in the current long term services and support system has must be reformed through a cooperative effort by the state government, the disability/older community; and 

C) The long term services and support system must include the principles that home and community services and supports are the first priority and that support services should be provided in the most integrated setting; and 

D) No person with a disability or older American should be forced into a nursing home or other institution because of the lack of community options; 
People with disabilities and older Americans must integrally participate in the design, implementation and review of the long term services and support system; and 


To support the passage and funding of the Money Follows the Person, legislation that includes nurse delegation and funding for the Centers for Independent Living in Tennessee to provide nursing home transitional services; and 


To strongly suggest that the governor's office work with the disability and aging community, through public forums to assure that the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision is aggressively implemented and that the measure of this implementation be, in a year, how many people have gotten out of nursing homes and other institutions and how many people have been diverted from nursing homes and other institutions; and 


To strongly suggest that Governor Bredesen work with the disability and aging community, through public forums to assure that any 1115 waivers submitted by the State should have statewide public hearings before development and submission to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and that the 1115 waiver process should not be used to undercut current community Medicaid services and federal protections; and 


To strongly suggest that Governor Bredesen supports reform of the long term services and support system that does not result in block granting funding to the states and removal of the current national Medicaid protections. 

MCIL Journal Index 2005

Follow the TennCare Sit-in

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