He seems sincerely concerned about Tennesseans’ healthcare, but his solutions fall far short of what the crisis demands.

March 5th, 2019 / Author: Keila Franks

March 5th, 2019 / Author: Keila Franks

Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State address:

He seems sincerely concerned about Tennesseans’ healthcare, but his solutions fall far short of what the crisis demands.

Last night, Gov. Bill Lee gave his first State of the State address. He seems sincerely concerned about Tennesseans’ healthcare, but his solutions fall far short of what the crisis demands. Call Gov. Bill Lee (615-741-2001) today. Tell him that bold, decisive action is needed, and now.

Gov. Lee started his address saying that “the state of our state is hopeful, prosperous, and strong.” It undoubtedly looks that way to the most fortunate.

But the state of our state feels anything but hopeful, prosperous, or strong for many Tennesseans who are struggling each day to get access to affordable healthcare.

For people living in rural communities where their hospital has been forced to close, their communities feel anything but hopeful.
For people who are living in poverty and have absolutely no access to affordable healthcare because Tennessee didn’t expand Medicaid, “prosperity” has never seemed further away. For the grieving families devastated by the loss of a beloved son, daughter or parent to a drug overdose, the lack of strength in our state’s response to the addiction epidemic is painfully apparent.

Tennesseans have urgent healthcare needs, and our state leaders need to treat these problems with the urgency they demand.

Later in his address, Gov. Lee said that “every Tennessean should have access to high-quality health care they can afford.”

But the small-scale and tentative solutions he proposed don’t reflect the magnitude of what has become a full-blown public health crisis affecting millions of Tennesseans.

Here’s what Gov. Lee discussed in his speech:

“Healthcare Modernization Task Force”: Gov. Lee proposed creating a task force to study cost-saving measures. But we don’t need another task force. There is already a large volume of research that shows that the 36 states that have expanded Medicaid have better health outcomes, stronger healthcare infrastructure, and lower costs for everyone, including people with private insurance. Tennesseans are suffering from lack of affordable healthcare now, while our lawmakers continue to try to look concerned rather than taking the lead in solving the problems.

Telemedicine: Gov. Lee continues to tout telemedicine as a solution to address the lack of healthcare infrastructure in rural communities after hospitals close. But when someone in a rural area is having a heart attack, she doesn’t need a virtual doctor. She needs an ER nearby that can save her life. And research shows TN’s rural hospitals would be six times less likely to close if TN expanded Medicaid.

Behavioral Health Safety Net: Gov. Lee is proposing an $11 million increase in the state’s behavioral health safety net for those with serious mental illness who are uninsured. While we appreciate Gov. Lee’s concern about individuals suffering from mental illness, $11 million is tragically inadequate. Why, we lose more than that in just three days, because our legislature blocks acceptance of federal funding to expand Medicaid. If TN expanded Medicaid, our state would gain $3.8 million every single day in federal healthcare funding that is designated specifically for uninsured Tennesseans to be able to get access to the health care they need.

Call Gov. Bill Lee TODAY: 615-741-2001. Tell him that we need real solutions to Tennessee’s urgent healthcare needs, now. We need to make sure the Governor is hearing from his constituents that the “solutions” outlined in his speech do not address the urgency and scale of the healthcare crisis in our state.