Next week will be one of the most important weeks in Tennessee in ten years and maybe the most important week of the next ten years. Governor Bill Haslam has called a special session to address his plan to offer health insurance to the poor, the needy of this state that have no insurance or access to adequate health care- Insure Tennessee. As much as anything else the result of this session will define what it means to be poor and sick in this state for years to come. The studies say several hundred people in Tennessee die each year as either a direct or indirect result of not having access to insurance. We could be days away from saying “no one has to die. Not again…Never again in Tennessee.”
An amazing array of people have come out in favor of the plan….all areas of Tennessee, all segments of society, all viewpoints, all political parties. It is really amazing. Every civic organization, every business organization, every newspaper…. everybody who has a public presence has raised their voice to say yes. Yet it is not a done deal…For Governor Haslam has to do more than convince the people. He has to convince the legislature.
No one knows what will happen. You want to believe that the voice of the people translates directly into the will of the legislature but there is reason to worry. The political battle is real and heated and the outcome will be close. There is some reason to fear the whole thing may die in a House committee and the voice of no one be heard. The Tea Party is alive and well in Tennessee and will not lose gracefully or easily.
The purpose of this post is to publicly thank and celebrate the leadership of one man- Senator Doug Overby of Blount County. Senator Overby has agreed to sponsor Insure Tennessee in the state senate after the majority leader chose not to. Senator Overby is the senator from Maryville. He is my senator. I dont know when I have been prouder to claim a public official as “mine.” He is known as one of the most effective spokesmen for mental health in the legislature and is fitting that someone of his stature and record take on this task. I have communicated with him several times over the last two years and always come away impressed with his integrity.
This Tuesday is Insure Tennessee day on the hill at the Tennessee state legislature. Please come and share your voice. We are close to a Tennessee for Tennesseans. The closest we have been in ten years. Please come and speak. You need to….you deserve to be heard. Please come.
Senator Overby again thanks. I hope with your leadership and example and the example of many of your colleagues that Insure Tennessee will become the life changing reality it can be for the people, the communities, and medical system of Tennessee. We all deserve it.