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DAY FORTY-THREE: Bredesen Healthcare Mistake

Today marks the death of TennCare as Bredesen’s healthcare plan and colossal cuts take effect.

Bredesen speaks to activists. Photo by Al Levenson.(NASHVILLE, August 1, 2005) Tennessee throws away $1.2 billion dollars in federal matching funds today although Governor Bredesen has pitched his proposal as a money saving necessity. The TennCare changes go into effect today as hundreds of thousands of citizens lose healthcare because the state’s chief executive has failed to keep his promise to fix TennCare.

“I am scared to death,” said Don DeVaul who has been a cornerstone of the protest outside the governor’s office for seven weeks. “I already know that I have been cut off, it is absolutely incredible what Bredesen has done to us.” 

Last night the Tennessee Healthcare Campaign completed a four-day ringing a bell to symbolize the 719,000 Tennesseans that will lose their medical care. The bell rang every 4 seconds, day and night, for ten people that are impacted by the cuts. The bell tolled across Legislative Plaza, but activists at the governor’s office, because of the thick glass, could not hear the bell. Don DeVaul, locked inside the capitol, estimated the crowd across the street at about 150.

The governor who directly lied about TennCare benefits may call for a special session on ethics but not on the state’s healthcare. Protestors at the governor’s office have demanded an end to the disenrollment and for the Governor to meet openly about the changes. Bredesen is intent on pressing his Medicaid plan without public scrutiny. 

Don DeVaul"It makes me wonder if he is not trying to deflect some of the bad publicity about TennCare off on ethics," said Sen. Raymond Finney, D-Maryville. "We all agree we need to address ethics in more detail. Just not in an emergency session."

The Nashville City Paper reports today that the governor has mishandled the protest. They speculate that had the governor’s staff been definite about moving the demonstration outside, the protest would be over.

“Had the governor's staff been firmly polite a month ago and told the protestors that they had to take their demonstration outside the Capitol, the whole matter would have been forgotten by now,” said the City Paper.

Whether this speculation is true or not, the protest goes on inside and outside the capitol. Activist’s have been at the governor’s office for seven weeks now, and have no plans of leaving. There are candlelight vigils in support of the occupation and to demonstrate against Bredesen every night outside the capitol.

“What matters is seeing a face,” said DeVaul.

- Tim Wheat

 

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