I remember standing in the line at Walmart a couple of years ago and listening to the people in front of me talk. I don’t know why but they were talking about Insure Tennessee. One of them was real angry. “I don’t believe all this stuff about people dying. Have you ever known anybody who died? I haven’t…. Have you.”
I spoke quietly. “I have….”
It was the quietest I have ever seen a Walmart. I wondered if everyone heard.
I remember many years ago trying to explain to a committee at the state legislature that my wife was a miracle but she was a miracle that had to be redone every day and I was afraid they would kill the miracle. Not just her but many miracles.
I remember 8 years of no insurance before medicaire kicked in and the state legislator who told me he was fighting for my freedom and would protect me from Obamacare. I wondered when he would burn his insurance card in solidarity.
I remember working in a hospital with no benefits the week I worked with pneumonia because I had no insurance and if I didn’t work I couldn’t pay the rent.
I remember the first time I met Tracy Foster and I found out she had cancer of the wrong spot and didn’t qualify for Tenncare. I remember wondering what it said about a state where some cancer didn’t count.
I remember Tracy hugging me in the hallway of the state legislature after a committee killed Insure Tennessee in about 7 minutes and asking me if this meant she was going to die.
I remember the first time I heard Michelle Fardan talk about the death of her daughter. She died from a broken toe. She had no insurance and didn’t want to make a bill she couldn’t pay. A broken toe came with a blood clot that moved up her leg. It went to her lungs and exploded and she died. In Tennessee. In the 21st century.
I remember talking to a friend from West Tennessee. He told me about the guy who had a heart attack and didn’t make it to the hospital. On the way to the hospital the ambulance drove by the old hospital that had closed.
Allowing sick people to access decent medical care is part of what it means to be a decent people. You can choose to be indecent and justify it in every way possible but your indecency has consequences harder to ignore. I am not served or advanced or protected by the sickness or death of my brother or my neighbor. Poverty should not be a death sentence and if you are poor and in Tennessee and have the misfortune to be sick it might be.
Medicaid matters. 284,000 people in Tennessee know. Perhaps you know too. Do what you can do to make it matters.
It is a tragedy when people die who dont have to. It is an obscenity when they die for the political interests of anyone.
No one should be left behind. Will you not speak for those that are?
This month is Medicaid matters month. In Knoxville they have an event at Krutch Park downtown tomorrow afternoon. Please come if you can.