A congressman, a mayor, an unemployed welder and a homeless shelter worker were among 11 people at a hospital podium Monday with the same message: it’s time for state legislators to approve Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee alternative Medicaid expansion plan.
Further from a Richard Locker report on the latest news conference effort to revive Insure Tennessee:
“First we waited for the first Supreme Court case to make sure that the Affordable Care Act was going to continue to be law. Then we waited for implementation in other states. Then we waited for the 2012 and 2014 elections to see if it would get repealed, and there have been over 50 attempts to repeal it,” said state Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville.
“Then we waited to see how other states did and we’ve seen their revenues go up, their health coverage increase and their costs go down. Then we waited for our governor to work with the federal government to design a plan that will work for Tennessee, that was a little more conservative and had different elements from standard Medicaid expansion, which was done. And then we waited for yet another Supreme Court decision. Right now, because of legislative inaction, a population basically the size of Knoxville is needlessly uninsured,” Yarbro said.
Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, a heart and lung surgeon and retired career military officer who supports the governor’s plan, cited a list of powerful groups supporting the plan, along with ordinary citizens.
“The reason we all support it is because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do because Insure Tennessee will provide health care and health insurance for over 300,000 Tennesseans. It’s the right thing to do because 30,000 of our Tennessee veterans who have served us and protected us as a country are not eligible for Veterans Administration health care and they are looking to us.
“It’s the right thing to do because we are turning down $1.2 billion per year — over $6 billion in five years and that’s our tax money that’s been sent to Washington that we need to get back to take care of Tennesseans That $6 billion over the next five years that will either save or create 15,000 new jobs,” Briggs said.
The news conference at Nashville’s St. Thomas Midtown Hospital attracted nearly 100 advocates for the governor’s plan.
State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the effort is nonpartisan because it includes a Republican governor and Republicans like Briggs and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, along with Democrats.
…Others who spoke included U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn; Nashville Mayor Karl Dean; Tennessee Justice Center Executive Director Michele Johnson; Tennessee Business Roundtable Executive Director Charlie Howorth; Diane Donahue, who earns $11,000 as an uninsured homeless shelter worker in Wilson County, and David Crockett of Greene County, a former welder who lost his job after developing multiple sclerosis and is also uninsured.