Tomorrow at 11:30 there will be a gathering at the office of Speaker Beth Harwell. People will be at her office, at the door, in the hallways. Their message is simple. “Walk a mile in our shoes…. Please walk with us… Consider where we are coming from. Hear what it means to live in the coverage gap. Please. ”
They come at the end of a legislative session that said they needed to understand how difficult the position of legislators was and why they could not talk about Insure Tennessee this session. They come at the end of a legislative session that asks for their patience and asks them to be realistic and wait for their turn. And they simply ask that you consider their path, their journey… that you walk in their shoes. Inaction has consequences and for 280,000 people it has been and continues to be a fundamental injury that sentences them to unnecessary suffering, financial disaster, lost years of life and tragically for some death.
This link talks more about the action. (http://wp.me/plhDt-49o). Linda and I will be there and we would like to invite you to come. Even if you can’t come you can help. Mail shoes that you no longer need or no longer use to Rep Harwell’s office. The mailing address is: Speaker Beth Harwell, 19 Legislative Plaza, Nashville, Tennessee 37243. Tell her about people you know in “the gap.” Ask her to walk with the people who as Speaker she leads. It is so past time that 280,000 Tennesseans be listened to.
This is my message to Speaker Harwell:
You might wonder why we are here. After phone call after phone call, after emails and texts, after 20 billboards all over the state what could we have to say that you haven’t heard or that you need to listen to now? Why are we here?
The answer is really simple.
It is not about politics really. It is not about elections or primaries. It is not about the votes you say you do have or don’t have.
It is about 280,000 Tennesseans without insurance, many of them working people whose only crime is to be poor. It is about people lost in a conversation dominated by electoral considerations and political interests. It is about Michele Fardan whose daughter died from the complications from a broken toe. It is about Tracy Foster who has the wrong kind of cancer. Her insurance company is gofundme. She is fighting for her life. It is about realities that should not be real.
It is about things we want every legislator to know. They need to know the injury of their politics, of their assumption that the poor and hurting can wait on their convenience. They need to know their actions have real life consequences for real life people. And they need to know that some people who don’t need to die, whose death is preventable with anything close to adequate health care will in fact die.
Before the session is over, before you close the books or shut the door we are asking you to stop. Stop and put yourself in the shoes of so many whose daily prayer has been for your leadership, for your action. Feel, really stop and feel the consequences of what you have done and of what you can do.
We are asking for your commitment to lead. We are asking for your commitment to fight. We are asking for you to listen, to care about what you hear and to make a difference. We are asking for you to make the moral urgency of this issue matter.
We are asking for you to make a public statement on this issue not cloaked in political conveniences. We are asking for you to make the 280,000 people who should count actually count.
Speaker Harwell speak. Silence gets none of us anything.
Bring it to the floor. It is long past time. Insure Tennessee now.