DAY FIFTY: Legislators Call for a Special Session on TennCare
Bredesen likely to ignore people’s call for additional analysis of healthcare
(NASHVILLE, August 8, 2005) Three members of the Tennessee General Assembly have written Governor Bredesen asking for TennCare to be a topic in the upcoming Special Session. Senator Doug Jackson, of Dickson, Representative David Shepard, also of Dickson and Representative John Tidwell, from New Johnsonville, have asked for TennCare to be an issue for a special session, or added to the agenda of an upcoming session on ethics.
“We support the call for a special session to deal with TennCare,” said Stan Davidson from the sit-in at Governor Bredesen’s office, “our intension is to stay until the [TennCare] cuts are repaired and all the people reinstated.”
For fifty days activists have held a sit-in at Governor Bredesen’s office because the governor has failed to meet publicly over cost-saving options and to stop the disenrollment of people from TennCare. The demonstration has also become a focus of the resentment of citizens’ for the governor breaking his promises about TennCare and failure of Bredesen’s “safety net” plan.
"The fact of the matter is that we are not going away until they reform TennCare in such a way that people's lives are not at risk," said Tony Garr of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign. "This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue; this is truly a moral issue."
Bredesen, a Democrat, rejected cost-saving proposals of Republicans and Democrats to embark on his own Medicaid plan that ended healthcare coverage to nearly two hundred thousand people. He has not responded to cost-saving proposals of Tennessee ADAPT or the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Tennesseans familiar with Bredesen say that he is likely to ignore the letter asking for a TennCare Legislative Session. They say he has a strategy of overlooking possible solutions in order to cement his long-range plan to return to Medicaid.
In fact, an internal memo titled, "Back to Medicaid Kickoff" verifies that Bredesen has a plan in place to disregard options to save TennCare. Dated November 22, 2004 the document reads, "Prevent alternative proposals (e.g., savings, revenue generation, enrollment)."
The governor’s statements that he has attempted to keep his promise to fix TennCare and that he has done the best with the hand he was dealt seem disingenuous.
“Everything he [Bredesen] said, that he attempted to fix TennCare, that he wanted suggestions to save TennCare, were just bold-faced lies,” said Michael Heinrich locked inside the capitol this weekend. “He already had mechanisms in place to resist reform and oppose solutions.”
- Tim Wheat