My name is Rachael Ledbetter, and I am a third-year law student at the University of Memphis School of Law. As a student attorney in the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, access to quality healthcare is particularly important to me. I am fundamentally and ethically opposed to the proposal to convert TennCare into a block grant. The consequences of this destructive proposal will lead to an increased number of Tennesseans without coverage and without access to healthcare. Under the block grant proposal, the state will not have sufficient funds to provide healthcare coverage for people who need it. In addition, the state is proposing to have the ability to change eligibility requirements. The proposal is a direct yet surreptitious attack on vulnerable Tennesseans and their families. My mother is a physician, and I grew up making rounds with her and watching her care for her patients in our rural, Tennessee town. Many Tennesseans do not have adequate access to healthcare and insurance as it is, and I have seen firsthand how lack of healthcare coverage can affect Tennesseans and their families. My mother taught me the importance of defending people who are vulnerable, and this proposal will lead to even more citizens of our state without coverage for their basic healthcare needs. This is clear: People will die if this proposal goes into effect, and the ones who will suffer the most are our poorest, oldest, and most vulnerable neighbors. Rather than legitimize this impractical, ineffective, and harmful proposal, our civic leaders should join the 36 other states who have expanded Medicaid and allow better access to healthcare for all Tennesseans. I am opposed to the block grant proposal, because it gives the state the authority to cut services and eliminate Tennesseans’ health coverage as they please without any accountability. TennCare coverage is vital for my clients in the MLP Clinic at the Law School. We currently have a client who is a child and ventilator dependent, and if her services are cut, it will be fatal. Supporters of this proposal argue it will help save the state money, but the real cost of these financial savings will be the many human lives lost as a consequence and will forever outweigh any imagined financial benefit of this proposal. I respectfully but vehemently urge you not to proceed with this harmful and unjust proposal. If you value the lives of Tennesseans and their access to healthcare, then expand Medicaid in our state instead. Thank you.

-Rachael Ledbetter

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