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DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: Protest Expands with Bredesen’s Dishonesty.

Governor cuts services three weeks ago he promised to save.

(NASHVILLE, July 16, 2005) Activists begin their fourth weekend outside Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen’s office demanding that TennCare disqualification stop and the governor meet publicly about the state healthcare program. Citizens expressed anger at the deceitful nature of the administration that had promised not to cut ventilator services, only to find out that Governor Bredesen will cut those services.

Michael Heinrich“I was present when the governor told Glen Barnhill that he wouldn’t be losing his services,” said Michael Heinrich who is locked in the state building for the weekend. “There is much duplicity by Bredesen and his administration when dealing with these things publicly. I mean, the governor directly addressed Glen, he was not saying delay; he promised to keep services for vent users.”

A state press release on Thursday said that Private Duty Nursing (PDN) services would be cut at the end of the year rather than in August. The statement says the extra time is needed by the Tennessee Department of Human Services to make the change in policy, but implies that it fulfills the governor’s pledge that “TennCare enrollees who are ventilator-dependent will continue to receive nursing services.” 

“That is bullshit,” said Heinrich, “Bredesen did not say for an additional five months only; that was certainly not the message given. He tells you what you want to hear but will act as he wants to act.”

The activists have been holding a peaceful, non-violent sit-in since June 20, when they gave Bredesen the demands and said they would stay at his office day and night until he complied. Demonstrators expected to be arrested that evening, but instead have kept a constant presence at the governor’s office. Inside the capitol, teams of protestors congregate, around the clock, at the governor’s office door while nightly candlelight vigils are organized outside the state building.

This is the first weekend that activists must deal with the governor’s new “no food or water” rule. The first weekend, the governor himself ate burgers in the office foyer. Because of the pressure of the protest, Bredesen is using the state police as his personal “hall monitors” and is not allowing the demonstrators to replenish the food supply in the building. 

“There are still some reserve [food] here,” said Heinrich. “We have some fruit, crackers, peanut butter and about ten bottles of water. We are not stressed for food this weekend, but it will be more difficult next week. People will just do without food.”

-Tim Wheat

See: Bredesen’s Pledge to Vent Users is Hollow.

More on the Appeals:

TennCare officials said they have already received 15,000 appeals from people who face losing their coverage. The state says appeals made by people whose only claim is that they will die without TennCare, will not be successful.

The Health Options Hotline can help enrollees find other ways to receive health care and medication. The number is (888) 486-9355, and it is staffed Monday-Friday from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

For Whom the Bell Tolls...

Info from Tony Garr and the Tennessee Health Care Campaign.

Date & Time for Tolling: Thursday, July 28, 12:00 Noon until Sunday, July 31, 8:48 PM - 24/7
Place: North side of Legislative Plaza, sidewalk on Charlotte Ave., Nashville, TN, between Legislative Plaza and the Capitol
Tolling of the Bell: Every 4 seconds the Bell will toll. Each toll represents 10 enrollees who are being cut off or facing severe benefit limits. By 8:48 PM on Sunday, July 31, the bell will have tolled for all 719,000 TennCare enrollees.

Volunteers are needed from every county: A Volunteer leader is needed for each county to coordinate others who are willing to come to Nashville to toll the bell. County volunteers this is one more and important chance to let your voice be heard! Please step forward and respond to Pam Duzak.

How to sign up to toll the bell? Email Pam Duzak at

You can call her during the week from 5:00 to 9:00 PM during the week and on the weekend at (615) 356-6474. However, she would prefer you to email. Pam needs the following information from each volunteer: First and last name, day and night telephone number, mailing address, and your commitment to come to Nashville to toll the bell for your fellow Tennesseans.

Press conference at 11:30 with people telling how these cuts will harm their lives. 

The Bell will toll every 4 seconds. Each toll will represent 10 of the 719,000 enrollees being cut: 323,000 cut off and 396,000 with severe benefit cuts. People from each county will come to Nashville to toll the bell. 

Ending of the tolling of the bell - 8:48 PM - Candlelight Vigil will follow.

Tony Garr
Tennessee Health Care Campaign
1103 Chapel Ave.
Nashville, TN 37206

MCIL Journal Index 2005

Follow the TennCare Sit-in

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© 2005 Tim Wheat