DAY FIFTY-SEVEN: Bredespin: Saving TennCare.
Governor takes credit for saving 97,000.
(NASHVILLE, August 15, 2005) This past week Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has cheerfully announced that he has temporally saved healthcare for 97,000 people. Activists sitting-in now for fifty-seven days find this to be more of the insincere and manipulative posturing by the governor. “Saving healthcare” would not be necessary if the governor had not cut the healthcare for over a quarter-million Tennesseans.
“We demand that Governor Bredesen stop what he is doing,” explains Don DeVaul who is locked inside the public building this weekend, “reinstate those kicked off of TennCare and he must stop pulling the wool over people’s eyes.”
Those familiar with Medicaid also take exception to the governor suggesting that a “safety net” is effectively taking the place of TennCare. People that have daily and reoccurring medical needs are being directed to short-term and limited options that may be called the safety net, but in reality cannot replace long-term and rehabilitative healthcare.
“The role of a safety net in health care can be compared to the role of the safety net in a circus. All but the most daring high-wire performers and acrobats perform with a safety net under them,” said David M. Mirvis the director of the Center for Health Services Research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. “A circus safety net is not intended to be used. Rather, the acrobats' goal is to enhance their skills so that the safety net will never be needed.”
Bredesen’s push to save the state money has cost the state $1.2 billion in federal matching funds and will expand the cost to local and county taxpayers in acute and hospital care. Many people who are unable to meet their basic healthcare needs will look to other, more costly methods of public healthcare and many Tennesseans that cannot afford private health insurance will do without.
“There is no safety net,” said Don DeVaul who was cut from TennCare. “No net, and no programs in place; we will end up in the ER (Emergency Room) not rehab.”
More than 190,000 Tennesseans are looking for the nebulous safety net that the governor talks about, only to find that safety net is just more empty rhetoric from the Bredespin administration. The safety net myth is comfort to those that are not impacted by the TennCare cuts, they assume that something is in place to assist those that have lost TennCare to deal with healthcare. The biggest impact of the safety net, is that it may help rehabilitate Bredesen’s image for the 2006 election.
“I feel there is a storm brewing,” said DeVaul. “We get many calls from outside the state and the pressure is building here in Tennessee. I heard that six local reps sent a letter asking for a TennCare special session. It is just a matter of time, things are starting to catch here, it will be worth it all.”