The Harwell Joke

I have read the above story a hundred times I bet. I started off expecting to read one thing and then worked my way through disbelief and finally to rage. If you read the rest of the this post and decide I have misread the article I would be indebted to you if you would point that out. I would consider it a personal service if you can explain to me how I am wrong. I would in fact be grateful.

Let me start off with a word of caution. Most of what follows is politically incorrect. Almost none of it will make anyone feel better. It is not uplifting. It is not optimistic. It is honest. In virtually everything that follows I hope I am wrong because if I am right it is a terrible truth.

The task force has nothing to do with finding a way to insure 280,000 people with no insurance. It is not about finding an alternative to Insure Tennessee. It is about finding a way to divert us from Insure Tennessee. The article makes clear the purpose of the task force is to come up with pilot projects based on “conservative principles” that can be phased in across the state to improve the “efficiency” of TennCare.

If you don’t want to talk about the problem of who we don’t insure the Harwell solution is to create the problem of the people we do insure. The Harwell belief, maybe for many the Republican belief, is not that we don’t insure enough, but that we insure too many too well.

It is the only game in town right now. The Senate does not seem to regard anything created without them as serious. The Democrats write it off as pathetic. The governor…. well he is busy with other things I guess.

Harwell, one person told me, is not trying to solve the problem of 280,000 uninsured. She is trying to solve the problem of Harwell.

What do you do if the only game is rigged? I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe you play and hope you are wrong.

The effort will be made to hold her accountable. The effort will be made to raise the volume in her life. At some point maybe she will realize she has not gotten rid of 280,000 people. She has adopted them.

If my fears are right and the task force is little more than some convoluted hoax where does that leave us? If the efforts to make the task force really matter are unsuccessful where does that leave us? If a Republican wins the presidency it leaves us dead in the waters, but even if a Democrat wins does it not leave us with a state legislature more eager than ever to prove it can’t be pushed around??? Is there a credible path to success? Can enough Democrats be elected to make a difference?

What if we are left with no credible real path to closing the gap. What if it is not a question of who gets left behind? What if everyone will? What then?

I think some people may read this and ask why I am not more optimistic or more encouraging. The simple answer is that I am not optimistic and I am not encouraged. I wish I was and if any or all of this is wrong I will be glad to eat all the crow I can.

I have a friend who told me yesterday that she hoped she lived long enough to see that her efforts made a difference for someone even if it was too late for her. Me too. With all my heart me too.

I always have some idea of what to say and I don’t know what to say. The last three years have changed my life forever. They have changed me forever. I have believed that Insure Tennessee was possible, even that it was likely. It had been a roller-coaster time for me. I have known great hope and great sadness and great rage. I don’t know how to get past the rage I feel right now.

This is not a call to stop fighting as much as it is a warning about the fight ahead. As hard as it is to believe the Tennessee legislature may try to solve the problem of the 280,000 in the gap by washing their hands and walking away. What I never felt possible I now fear is.

I have talked in the last couple of weeks to some people in the gap. Everyone hopes this task force is real but are having a hard time finding anything real about this legislature. Some are trying to come to terms with being left behind. Some think they already have been. No one I know really knows what to believe? Most are scared. Really, really scared.

You are supposed to have a great conclusion in posts like this and I really don’t. I would be glad to be totally wrong but I don’t think so. I wish I could be more upbeat but that is not where I am at. Dread. I think that is what I feel. Incredible, incredible dread.

A lot of people have fought so hard and so long. Hang in there. No matter what happens hang in there. I fear the hardest part is ahead. It is a fight worth making. Hang in there.


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