“I have two adult children with disabilities, both need on-going medical care which they currently receive through Tenn Care. Without Tenn Care the emergency room would be their only option for health care. Tenn Care enables them to keep chronic conditions under control, preventing further deterioration. If they should lose Tenn Care due to cost cutting they could no longer afford their medications. For 8 years I volunteered with a non-profit working with low income residents to help them with utilities, rent, food, and other necessities. During interviews with most of them it was apparent that without Tenn Care they would have no on-going health care to treat their chronic conditions. They would not be able to afford their medications. While many charitable organizations help these people, there is no way they could pay hospital or doctor bills – they quickly would go broke trying to do so. Cumberland County’s hospital appears to be solvent, but many surrounding counties are losing their hospitals. Residents affected by those closures must travel some distance to an emergency room. Doing so endangers their health and possibly their lives. If hospitalization outside their home county is required it puts a considerable burden on them and their families. Expanding Medicaid has enabled many other states to avoid the hospital closures that currently plague Tennessee. While virtually all Republican governors who chose to expand Medicaid agree it was the right thing to do for their citizens, it appears that some of our state leaders want block granting of Tennessee’s healthcare to allow them to remove $2 billion out of Tennessee’s health care system. Diverting funds from the health care system is the absolute last thing our state should be considering. Our residents deserve better than that. As Ohio Governor Kasich said ‘If they don’t get coverage, they end up in the emergency room, they end up sicker, more expensive, I mean, we pay one way or the other,’ ‘And so this has been a good thing for Ohio.’ Voters in red states with health care issues on their ballots voted to expand Medicaid. Majorities of Americans now agree that everyone should be able to go to the doctor or hospital without going bankrupt. In a rural state that places great emphasis on family values, ours is full of residents who are uninsured. Being able to care for one’s health and the health of their family epitomizes a family value. Taking a chance on block granting health care for needy Tennessee residents seems like too big a gamble for us to take. I respectfully ask that you abandon this gamble and expand Medicaid in our state, an option that has proved very successful in states with other Republican governors.
Mary Ann Crowe Crossville, TN”