Sandy is one of nearly 200,000 people who have lost TennCare coverage since July 1, 2005. She has been living with leukemia for about six years. She needs chemotherapy treatments – sometimes just once or twice a month, sometimes two times a week – depending on her blood levels. Over a six-month period, the cost of treating Sandy’s cancer is about $44,000. But this investment in Sandy’s life allows her to live, to pastor the congregations for which she works, and most importantly to love and guide her three children and be a partner to her husband.
In January 2006, she spoke to the TennCare Oversight Committee to explain how the TennCare cuts will affect her. A short while later, Sandy lost TennCare coverage. The Safety Net has now agreed to cover her chemotherapy treatments until June 30, 2006. She currently has no coverage to assist her with any of her other health problems.
Sandy has explained to legislators and public officials that without health coverage she will surely die – unless our elected officials come up with a better plan for people in Tennessee who need health insurance. The proposed Cover Tennessee and Access Tennessee programs are unlikely to help Sandy. Cover Tennessee allows denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Sandy is one of 67,000 critically ill Tennesseans who have serious illnesses, which is why they qualified for TennCare as “uninsurables” in the first place, and Cover Tennessee will not help them. In addition, the Access Tennessee program will charge premiums that are 150-250 percent of market rate. Few if any will be able to afford those prices. Sandy has spoken out, explaining how these programs are only a pretense of help.
She continues to speak publicly about the devastation of losing health care coverage. She continues to hope that the people of our state and our leaders will find a better way to reform our public health programs. She continues to believe in God’s grace and in miracles.
TJC continues to advocate for expanded and improved home and community based alternatives to institutionalization for children and adults with severe disabilities and chronic disease. Her story appeared in Redbook magazine’s July 2007 issue.