I have been trying to get some sense of why the plan from the Speaker’s Task Force just doesn’t move me. It doesn’t for that matter move many people I know. And on some level it probably should. After all it promises if it works out to close the coverage gap something so many people have tried to do for years.
Some of it I understand. I strongly disagree with the terminally ill not being part of phase one. Saying that we will tell the legislature how important it is to hurry with phase two, at least for me, doesn’t cut it. First of all I know of no reason to believe anyone would listen. Secondly, and more importantly, I just dont think we have tried. Do we have so little leverage, so little position that we must just accept what is handed us? Are we not trying to get on the train before it even pulls into the station? I know some people who have no more wait left in them and I just don’t know how to explain to them the idea that we have to accept this for the greater good and they are just out of luck.
Secondly I have a lot of concern about making everything with everyone contingent upon success with the mental health population. The plan makes a lot of assumptions and underestimates the complexity of the task before them. The assumption that this will be the success they demand it to be and that phase two will come off as plan requires more faith than I have.
But my reaction is even deeper than that and I have been trying to get a handle on that for days.
The Task Force ignored our input from the beginning. It’s acceptance by the legislature is anything but sure. They shot down Insure Tennessee because of alleged concerns about cost. Accepting a lower match rate from the federal government how can this not cost more without some of the immediate benefits Insure Tennessee brought. They have tried to open the doors by first covering two groups that are easy political sells but many legislators just didn’t buy the idea that everyone should be covered. I thought “the governors plan” would have automatic political leverage and it didn’t. Why should the “speakers plan” be any different? I don’t know, but I have very little faith in the good will of the Tennessee legislature. I am not ready to get fired up about something with so many questions. Probably just a stupid emotional reaction on my part, but part of the lesson of the last years for me is that perhaps some lemons will never become lemonade.
It feels wrong and I feel stupid saying that because I have nothing better to offer. I really felt like we were finally beginning to make some progress at the end of the last session. At least we were becoming enough of an irritant that powerful people thought they needed to do something. The billboards, the direct actions, the incessant contacts all had an effect. Speaker Harwell felt pressured enough to put her political future on the line. I guess I wonder if continuing the pressure would have made even more of a difference. I wonder if we had hit the ceiling of the impact we could have made. I don’t know.
Perhaps this will all work out and the coverage gap will be closed. I will be very sad for those who didn’t make it but will be ecstatic for those who now will. And perhaps everything I have said is wrong and perhaps those who say there is no real choice are right. Right now, at least for me it is a really hard sell. I don’t know if it is for anyone else or not. I am in the gap and the personal costs have been real. I am not objective.
I don’t know the reactions of others but I would be very glad to hear.
I look forward to the day when the coverage gap is historical trivia and we have a hard time believing there was such a thing. I hope I am wrong and I hope with every fiber of my being it is a day soon coming.
Close the gap. Please Lord let no one be left behind.