The argument in Tennessee is not about competing models of care. Despite all the high sounding rhetoric there are no competing models. It is an argument for care versus a feverish search to make abandonment a political, financial and moral value. It is not about how to care, but rather or not to care at all. In the end it is about making turning your back on the more needy and more vulnerable amongst you a virtue and political necessity.
If it is about abandonment it is about the everyday, deep in the pit experience of terror. It is terror not just of the sickness or challenges you face, but a terror borne of the spirit killing certainty that when you are the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the most needy that no one will be there. It is in the recognition that because of your poverty, because of where you live, because of many things, most of which you have no control that for some inexplicable reason it is against the rules for you to get the help you need.
It is about a system that says because of your financial status you will most likely die earlier than your fellow citizens.
It is about a system that says that ordinary and expected illnesses that medical science can treat or cure may go untreated for you even if it should mean your unnecessary death.
It is about a system in which any sickness may present you with financial catastrophe that you can never get past.
It is about a system that threatens your ability to keep a job and provide for your family if you cant get the medical care you need to stay healthy enough to keep that job.
It is about a system that tries to tell you that you are the cause of why it doesn’t work well rather than the victim of how it does work.
It is about a system that threatens the safety and security of your family and that in the end tells your children something is wrong with them.
It is about a system that attacks the heart and soul of its members as much as it ignores their bodies.
It is about a system that treats poverty as a crime and a moral failing.
It is about a system that in abandoning its most vulnerable would have each of us abandon something of the best of ourselves.
It is about a system long past time to change.
It is about a really new year. It is about hope. It is about fear not winning. It is about doing more and caring more and being more. It is about the spirit of Christmas past a day, past a season. It is about the gift of life. It is about me. It is about you. It is from us and for us, for all of us. It is about health as a blessing and not a threat. It is about promise becoming real. It is about a miracle. It is a about love.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. May this season bring you cheer and good hope. And may next year be a good one…. And for 280,000 Tennesseans after a very, very long wait may it finally…. finally after pain and sickness and for too many death be a truly really, finally really a new year.