Much of the battle ahead, much about the fight to close the coverage gap is a battle, a debate about what matters. It is not simply about what we can afford to do. It is a statement about what we can’t afford to not do. It is a statement of value.
It is about where you begin and not where you end.
And a large measure of the struggle ahead is a battle to claim that starting point. Insure Tennessee lost that battle. Despite all the positives, all the opportunities, all the benefits it was never about any of them. It was a story about Barack Obama. It was a story a about men in thousand dollar suits who ran hospitals who said they were financially hurting and it was about poor people (spelled by most people l a z y) who had brought much of their misery on themselves by their poor choices wanting someone else to foot the bill for them. It was never about a solution for Tennessee but resisting a looming threat. It was the defense of a narrative wrong on every count. It was about a legislature that in the end wanted 280,000 people to go away and not be a political problem that threatened to plague them forever. It was about a legislature proud to be pro-life waiting for enough people to be pro-living to make it safe for them to have a conscience. It was about a legislature that would defend our right to bear arms to the death, but who would not raise a finger to fight against our deaths.
It was about a legislature that justified every thing they did as being in defense of principles dear to them but seemed strangely unaware of the principles in the book they chose to be the state book. It was a legislature that defined reality not by the suffering of its most vulnerable citizens they were pledged to represent but by their prospects in coming primaries and elections. It was a legislature not about great issues but about avoiding what they were sure would be great anger of they tried to deal with those great issues. In a battle between compassion and anger and fear anger and fear won and it really wasn’t that much of a fight.
Why say all this?
Somethings have changed but somethings have not. There is a plan supported by leadership in the House. And that support is a really big deal. There are some different variables than Insure Tennessee faced. But there are also real problems and real challenges ahead. The same people who tried to define the battle for Insure Tennessee will try to define this battle also.
We must claim the starting point this time. We must help define what matters and what this is about. If you are in the gap or know someone in the gap or are just ready to see Tennessee become a pro-living state know your legislator and make sure he knows you. Talk to your newspapers, your civic organizations, your churches, your friends, your community. Tell them this is about insurance but so much more than that. It is about justice. It is about neighbors and community and family. It is about fair chances. It is about suffering long ignored and it is about health. The health of Tennessee.
It is time. Be inconviently loud and embarrassingly visual.
Close the coverage gap. Leave no one behind.