This is the letter I sent to Speaker Harwell this morning.
Dear Speaker Harwell
The last months have seen an explosion of stories about what it means to live without health insurance when access to medical care is the difference between a quality life or not or maybe any life at all. There have been scores of stories told, thousands untold. There is not just a coverage gap. There is a packed, filled, tragic gap that affects every city and town in Tennessee. Everybody knows someone.
The response by you and other legislators has seemed to be to pass all stories off as “just another story….” – nothing they haven’t heard, nothing that makes anything different. After awhile maybe they really do run together.. I don’t know.
But what if they really mattered??
What if you knew, what if each legislator knew, that each story was a person…. A real live person with the same needs, same feelings, same hopes as him, his brother, his wife, his children. What if they knew but for the grace of God their story was his story? What if ther knew that theirs was the power of life and death for literally thousands of people who only want to be heard and find out their lives are more than story? What if they knew?
I would like to think you couldn’t rest, that nobody could rest. I would like to think that urgency would be overwhelming and you would demand action. I would like to think it went past politics and party. I would like to think it couldn’t and wouldn’t wait. I would like to think in Tennessee that the collective will and commitment of decent people would be enough to make things better.
You have appointed a task force to find an answer. Insure Tennessee was the hope of many who had known none for a very long time. Insure Tennessee the product may be dead. Insure Tennessee the process is not.
I honestly don’t know what you mean by “conservative Tennessee principles” but I pray it is more than a preface to “we can’t do anything….” Many people believe your task force is nothing but a diversion from a plan that offered real relief to so many, a political convenience to shift focus from a plan that was too politically inconvenient for too many people. I pray for all our sakes… I pray for Tennessee they are wrong.
I am one of the 280,000 and for me the success of your task force is simple. Leave no one behind. Just simply leave no one behind…
Your answer must be an answer for 280,000 or it is not an answer. It is really that simple. Insure Tennessee left no one behind. There are no acceptable causalities.
I don’t know how 4 legislators can do in a couple months what it took an administration over a year to do. A friend told me what he thought. He thought the purpose of your task force was not to come up with something CMS would say yes to but something they would say no to. He thought your task force was a way to find someone to blame for the lack of will and leadership to face the issue of the 280,000. For all our sakes I hope he is wrong.
Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee may be dead. Insuring Tennessee is not. No one has left. No one has quit.
You have assumed the responsibility for 280,000 of your fellow Tennesseans. I pray they win your gamble.
Leave no one behind!! There are no acceptable casualties. For once, at last, for always… finally…. Let’s really insure Tennessee.