On the Health and Wellness of Haslam’s Task Force

Pam Strickland took a look at Gov. Bill Haslam’s appointees to the Health and Wellness Task Force. She was not impressed.
The group, which is charged with finding ways to help Tennesseans improve our bad lot regarding chronic, preventable conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, is overburdened with folks who have CEO, CMO and state bureaucrat in their titles.
There’s not a real person who deals with the nitty-gritty of health issues amongst them — not a nurse practitioner or a school nurse or a diabetes educator or a senior center director.
As a colleague said to me during a Tuesday afternoon telephone conversation, “I kept looking for a Tony Garr,” referring to the policy director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, which advocates for affordable health care and for those who have no insurance or who have only TennCare.
So I called Garr and asked what he thought of the task force.
“I noticed the same thing about how privileged the members are,” he said. “I would have put people on it who are obese and who are struggling with the issues that need to be addressed,” so that the task force would hear firsthand what the issues are and they couldn’t avoid the details of the lives.
He continued, “I would put parents of obese children (on the task force). Those kinds of folks. And I would also provide for a way for them to get to the meetings, because one of the problems is transportation.”

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