Excerpt from a column by Robert Houk:
A town Hall meeting last week on the Insure Tennessee plan had something of a tent revival feel about it, and it wasn’t because it was held at a church in downtown Johnson City. No, it was hearing the panelists talk about how expanding TennCare (Medicaid) would be moral, just and in keeping with the Golden Rule that made me think of a fervent religious gathering.
Of course, one presenter was a member of the clergy. The Rev. Jane Taylor, a pastor at First United Methodist Church… got an “Amen” from many in the audience… and from her fellow panelists, including Dr. Patrick MacMillan, an assistant professor at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine. MacMillan said expanding health coverage to 288,000 of Tennessee’s working poor “is simply the right thing to do.” He also got the loudest applause of the evening when he said: “Politicians have health insurance. Why can’t the working people of Tennessee have health insurance?”
This was in reference to recent reports that many lawmakers in the state General Assembly are receiving state-subsidized medical insurance. One of them, state Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, said he was perfectly fine with the public knowing of his health care coverage. Crowe, who helped defeat Insure Tennessee during a special session in February, only to play a crucial role in trying to revive it a month later, said he is now convinced the plan is a good thing for Tennessee.
That’s also the thinking of 64 percent of state residents polled on the subject by Vanderbilt University.
Crowe also told the crowd Wednesday that politics and ideology are the reasons many of his Republican brethren on Capitol Hill are willing to turn down nearly $2.8 billion in federal funds to help the low-income Tennesseans.