TJC Story Blog

Jan 2021

Richard Shanker

Mr. Richard Shanker is 47 years old and lives in Milan, TN. He is diabetic and has been on insulin since he was 3 ½ years old. When he was about 11 years old, his endocrinologist told him he probably wouldn’t live past 17. Now, doctors comment on how healthy he is for having had diabetes for over 40 years. Mr. Shanker is from New Jersey and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2003. He moved to Tennessee in 2017. He applied for Social Security disability in 2014. He had always worked and was struggling with chronic pain, especially in his right shoulder. He was approved for disability in January 2016 and was told that he was approved because of his poor vision. He has had a few laser eye surgeries.

In Nevada, Mr. Shanker was easily approved for Medicaid which helped cover his medical expenses. He applied for TennCare before moving to Tennessee and was denied for not being in an eligible category, since Tennessee has not expanded Medicaid. In August 2020, he had reconstructive surgery on his left shoulder and was in surgery for 4 hours. He was left with lots of bills from this surgery. Someone he talked to advised him to wait to apply for TennCare until after his surgery, since it would be easier to be approved then, but he is still unable to get TennCare since he is not in an eligible group. He has Medicare and SLMB but is struggling to pay medical bills and for prescriptions. Even though there are some good doctors near Mr. Shanker, it is impossible for him to see them since he cannot afford them. He has been unable to see an endocrinologist because no providers will accept him. Mr. Shanker said that if he knew how difficult it would be to get medical care in Tennessee, he probably would have stayed in Nevada.