Apologies to the readers

April 1, 2015 by

For the last couple of weeks I have been totally absorbed in the battle to expand health insurance in Tennessee.  Many people who regularly read this blog have a primary interest in mental health and I truly appreciate your patience.  More balance will be restored in the next days.

Yesterday was a personal tragedy for me.  With the effective death of Insure Tennessee any hopes I have of being back with Linda are dead for the forseeable future.

If you are a praying person I could use some in the coming days.

Again thanks.

Shame again on Tennessee…My God the shame

April 1, 2015 by

The post below is my post when Insure Tennessee was killed during the first special session.  Today Insure went through the Senate Commerce Committee.  And believe or not it was worse.  Take everything written below and multiply it times 10.  It was that bad.  There was no attempt to even act there was a question.  No discussion.  Basically no comments.  It was a sham.  It was the jury delivering the verdict without asking or waiting for either the prosecutor or defense attorney to say a word.  It was a bad day to be a Tennessean.  A really bad day.

I witnessed a crime today.  Tennessee was the victim.  It was more than a bill that died today.  People died.

The shame of Tennessee

Insure Tennessee, the governor’s  proposal to expand insurance to over 200000 people without insurance died this afternoon.  It didnt lose a vote.  It lost because the right to a vote was denied.  7 people in a committee of 11 people voted no and it died without going to the floor.  The right of other senators and entire House was flushed down the toilet along with the voices of every single one of their constituents.  There was a robbery today, a whole-sale violation of the hopes, the dignity, and the lives of so many people.  I dont know if it was a murder, but there will be death.

Insure Tennessee was not the biggest victim today.  Democracy was.  And who knows how or when it will recover.  How will the shame and utter hypocrisy of what happened today ever be addressed.

7 people won today.  The rest of us lost.  I am so ashamed of what it has come to mean to be a Tennessee state legislator.  There are decent and good people there.  Such a very horrible bad day.

The leaders of the state legislature abdicated their responsibilities.  Few spoke for democracy.  Those that tried only found empty ears and hard hearts. 

Today we are diminished.  Today say a prayer for those left with nothing.  Say a prayer for those who won that someday they will know their victory is in the end hollow and empty.

Say a prayer for Tennessee.  Its been a horrible, bad ugly day.

Murder in Tennessee

March 31, 2015 by

March 31, 2015.  Tennessee lost today. Tennessee really, really lost.

They voted for murder this afternoon.  In a sham of a hearing the Senate Commerce Committee voted 6-2-1 to kill Insure Tennessee this afternoon.  Statements were made, testimony was offered.  There was no questions, no debate, no conversation among the membership. They walked through the motions. Then they gave the verdict… a verdict decided long before they came into the committee room. In about 20 minutes 280,000 got the verdict.  Those dying were told to die.  Those sick were told to be sick.  Those not were told that help was not there.  They all cost too much.  The policy of the state is to turn their back, cover their eyes, plug their eyes and pretend that the lives and welfare of 280000 was beyond their control. They said they were really concerned about the poor….They act like lies are real. And then they voted for murder.

I hugged Tracy hard and we both cried. She has cancer and today was for her last hope. What I saw today was evil. Fancy, slick, polite…political righteousness but at bottom evil.

The battle is probably lost. The war is different now. I wonder how many people walked out the door radicalized who didn’t walk in that way.

The job of government is justice. Everything else is gravy. Today was government betrayed and the only question is what now.

I am not okay. Not a little. It feels forever but I know it is not. Tonight will be a long night. Tomorrow will be a new day. Thank God.

Tennessee changed today. But maybe not in the way they think.

God bless so many who have tried so hard for so long. It has been a long walk….It is still a long way home.

A cancer of the wrong spot

March 31, 2015 by

Today was Moral Monday at the Tennessee and I was privileged to speak at the rally but that was not the most important thing that happened to me today…

I met a lady with a cancer of the wrong spot… a brave, quiet lady fighting for her life.

She once had Tenn Care but lost it when her daughter had turned 18.  She had fought cancer once and won, but they told her they thought it would come back.

It has…. In Tennessee if you are a female and have cervical or breast cancer you can get Tenn Care.  Anywhere else…. You don’t qualify.  You get nothing.  The system supposed to help tells you sorry…..wishes you luck….but….

She has a cancer of the wrong place.  She drove over a hundred miles, by herself in real pain, a pain now always with her now, to tell her legislators her name.  One of her legislators is strongest against Insure Tennessee.  It is, he tells everyone, a really bad deal.  His name is Randy McNally. Senator McNally you don’t know bad deal.

They tell me that Insure Tennessee may die in committee later today.  I wonder how many people will die in committee today if it does.

She held her first press conference today.  She was worried she didn’t say things well.

I wonder how many people don’t hear things too well.

It is 3 in the morning here and I don’t know if sleep will be there anymore tonight.  I struggle to find the words to end this.  How do you talk about a hero who would give anything not to be a hero?  What do you say to a lady who only wants her life back?  How can there be a cancer of the wrong place?  How?  How many legislators today will look her in the eye and tell her Insure Tennessee is a bad idea?  I heard one on TV earlier tonight wondering why so many people were wasting their time.  How can there be a cancer of the wrong place and who is really wasting their time?

I wish I could say it is a solitary story but it isn’t.  280,000 people may never be there tomorrow but they are there for those who will listen.

I found these words I wrote when I found out Insure Tennessee still lived…

It is about a system that says because of your financial status you will most likely die earlier than your fellow citizens.

It is about a system that says that ordinary and expected illnesses that medical science can treat or cure may go untreated for you even if it should mean your unnecessary death.

It is about a system in which any sickness may present you with financial catastrophe that you can never get past.

It is about a system that threatens your ability to keep a job and provide for your family if you cant get the medical care you need to stay healthy enough to keep that job.

It is about a system that tries to tell you that you are the cause of why it doesn’t work well rather than the victim of how it does work.

It is about a system that threatens the safety and security of your family and that in the end tells your children something is wrong with them.

It is about a system that attacks the heart and soul of its members as much as it ignores their bodies.

It is about a system that treats poverty as a crime and a moral failing.

It is about a system that in abandoning its most vulnerable would have each of us abandon something of the best of ourselves.

It is about a system long past time to change.

Your voice matters. Speak loudly and more loudly. Do not stop or turn around.


When you read these words please stop and pray for Insure Tennessee. Pray that there are no more cancers of the wrong spot.

And pray for so many heroes whose names may never be known.

Insure Tennessee!

On two nickels

March 29, 2015 by

He never went to the doctor
For he could not pay
Getting sick for
Poor people was different
You see
He worked and
Had pneumonia but
Still went to work
Cause he could not
Afford to miss work
He got sick sometimes
But waited for it
To get over with
And sometimes it took
A little while
And people thought he was
But he had been to the
Emergency rooms
And knew how long hours
Were when you were not
Sick enough to be next
When it was only
An emergency to you
He knew what it was like
To lay in a bed
In a hallway
Waiting for a room
To be told what it
Might be
And given a prescription
He couldn’t pay for
Or to follow up with
A doctor he didn’t have
He knew the “you must
Be lazy look” when he
Told them he had
No insurance and
The shake of the head
When they saw
How much money he
Already owed
He never really
Understood his guilt
Or crime
Or why what he prayed for
Was something more than
He deserved
He prayed sometimes
When he was alone
And he was sure
No one was around
That he never got
“Really sick”
A sick he couldn’t
Wait out or ignore
He never told anyone
His prayer
For he did not
Want to seem scared
He saved up
Once to see a doctor
Because he felt so bad
And was told of
An operation he needed
But knew that could
Never happen
And has learned to live
With it
Being poor he knew
Was about learning to
Live with what would
Never happen
And finally he thought
The day had come
His chest hurt so bad
And he didn’t want to die
And he went back to the ER
And this time he was sick
Enough and didn’t have to wait
They told him maybe his heart
Maybe his gall bladder
Maybe emergency surgery
Wait for the tests
And he apologized because
He knew he could never pay
And finally they came back
It wasn’t his heart
Wasn’t his gall bladder
They didn’t know why
He hurt so bad
But he should
Follow up with a doctor
If the pain returned
He felt a sadness
He knew he could never explain
And apologized once more
As he left
A very nice lady stopped him
At the check out station
And asked him
Who was paying
He explained about no
Insurance and she asked
If he could pay any deposit
On the day
He reached in his
Pocket and took out
His last two nickels
“You can half of what
I have….
Which one do you want?”
He was glad they
didn’t know
And so glad
He wasn’t going
To die
And felt so sorry
For the lady with
The nickel
It seemed like
Such a dumb thing
To say.

You see I know. Because it was me.

Tomorrow is a Moral Monday for Insure Tennessee. I have read in the papers already about how it is foolishness to believe that it has a chance. It is dead already they say.

I don’t know about the battle. I know about the war. I hope tomorrow is more than one day. It is time to ask Governor Haslam and our legislators not about their political “realities” but about their moral testimony and about moral Tuesdays and moral Wednesdays and moral everydays…. So many people are such good people. Do we have to settle? Can we not ask, not expect more?

The song says, “ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around. ” My prayer is for a moral day tomorrow. And my biggest prayer is that we never, never ever, for no reason, for no season ever let them turn us around.

God bless.

Not yet

March 28, 2015 by

TED Talks: TED: Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve – Carol Dweck (2014) http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIw5YyJ9Ro

The price of shame

March 28, 2015 by

TED Talks: Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame. http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwi6aYmxI

On Justin Jones, on Jesus and more than a Moral Monday

March 28, 2015 by

Justin Jones is just 20 years old. He doesn’t make you just believe in young people. He gives you hope for people. He is a leader in Tennessee in the fight for Insure Tennessee, most specifically in facilitating a faith based coalition supporting Insure. He is instrumental in the development of the Moral Monday for Insure Tennessee, but his influence has been felt far more than just there.

He loves Jesus Christ but knows the measure of that is not in anything he has or accomplishes, but in what he gives. His platform, his mission is to love others. It is a love that comes without pose or calculation. It is simply who he is.

He was on the Journey to Justice a couple of weeks ago and I got to walk and talk for a while with him. We walked during a time I was having a hard time with the hills and somehow walking with him I didn’t feel slow. I told him about the journey Linda and I had been on for the last year, the people we had met and what our hopes were. He shared some of his journey but I really think he liked listening better.

He told me that our story had played a major role in him becoming an activist. He told me about Moral Monday and asked me if I would like to speak at the rally. I told him I didn’t know if I could make it or not but how honored I was that he would even consider me.

At the end of the walk I hurt in places I didn’t know I had to hurt in. I could barely walk but I knew I was lucky. It was in meeting Justin but more than that. I felt myself among heroes and knew I was blessed. It was Pam Weston and Anna Grabowski who walked every day and every mile. It was Katie and her daughters. It was Mary Headrick who has been walking such a very long time. It was Laura Sells….Todd…Rich….Walter…. And there were more. I left knowing that a day with the best of people was a best of days and I so badly needed that.

I talked to Justin last night and told him it looked like I might not make it Monday. Life like it too often does looked like it might get in the way. He told me again he wanted me to talk and told me if I couldn’t make it send something and he would read it.

Justin I still don’t know if I am coming. May not really know until Monday morning. Below is the talk that I would give if I came. Feel free to share as you feel led.

You and everyone involved are in my prayers.

(The video is a bonus. It seems to fit somehow the occasion.)

Jesus, Friend of Sinners – Casting Crowns: https://youtu.be/ipwEtvWL_3c


This rally is not just simply about a day although it is certainly about that. It is about a process, a way of doing all days. It is about politics but a politics that puts people before parties and recognizes that doing the right thing is victory above all victories. It is about taking the promises of this country seriously. It is in recognizing that all of us are mortal and make mistakes but that no one should die or have his life ruined because of public policy. It is about knowing we can and should do better and that the biggest question is not what can we afford to do but, if we are to be the kind of people we want to be, what can we afford to not do. It is about knowing that Insure Tennessee is the only train leaving the station and the only choice is to care or to abandon those in need. It is about winning a battle tomorrow but also about a war and knowing regardless of how this battle or any battle after it goes we will never stop until the war is won. It is about you. It is about me. It is about Tennessee.

No one need die or suffer because help is not available to them. We can do better and Insure Tennessee offers us a way.

May God bless each of us. May His presence give us strength and vision and may this day lead to more and better days for all of us.

Thank you.

On the worth of human life

March 28, 2015 by

Adapted from an earlier post

We are engaged in a battle

to define the worth of human life…

In a land that defines itself as the best of everything

The question is whether or not
access to that best
need be an artifact of position,
or wealth or material circumstances,
of social standing and class.

In a land where no one need die of untreated illness
or sickness

Can we live in such a way that the benefits
of our knowledge and science
be a gift to all our people

must it be rationed only to those who meet some financial criteria or position?

The question is whether or not
some lives are disposable,
that people can cost too much.

And if people cost too much
what value, what true value
do we hold any life?

It is a question
not of what we can do,
or what we can afford,
but of who we are and
who we can become.

In times increasingly mean,
it is ultimately a question not
of what we can survive,

But rather in the final measure
can we survive ourselves?

The last weekend of Insure Tennessee: personal reflections

March 27, 2015 by

Insure Tennessee, Tennessee’s plan to insure the uninsured, was supposed to have died the first week of February.   7 senators, in a committee stacked by the lieutenant governor, voted against.  It never went to the floor for a vote.  Those who voted against it had no other options or plans.  280,000 people who had begun to hope, after years of being ignored or told that they were the cause of the problems in the Tennessee Health system rather than its victims, that perhaps health care might become a reality for them too were told in a firestorm of political rhetoric that health care for them was a bad deal and wouldn’t happen.

It has found second life.  Thousands and thousands of Tennesseans called and walked and talked.  They told their representatives that they deserved to be heard and would not stop until they were.  They told their representatives that Tennessee could and should be better, that partisan politics should not define the lives of the most vulnerable of our citizens.  They said Insure Tennesee.

Some courageous senators took the risk.  And make no mistake it was a risk.  Insure made it through the first committee Wednesday night even though the chairman was told at one point by the lieutenant governor not to bring it up.  But it is a fragile, very fragile life.  It goes into another committee this Tuesday probably with all odds stacked against it.  It could, and smart money says it will, die.

Advocates from across the state are in overdrive.  On Monday there will be a moral day of action at the Tennessee legislature.  The message will be simple.  Do not do the politically expedient thing.  Do not do the easy thing.  Do the right thing. Simply do the right thing.  Step past Republican.  Step past Democrat.  The question is to care or not care.  CARE….. Do the right thing.

Your voice is needed. It is time for all of us to do democracy. Call….write…If you can come to Nashville. Ask the people you elected to truly represent you. What is done now may define Tennessee for years and if you are one of the 280,000 without insurance it most certainly define the parameters of your life. Getting sick should not destroy anyone’s life and this weekend you have a chance to make it reality for so many people.

And if we don’t it may be the last weekend.

I am one of the 280,000 and  when Insure Tennessee was originally defeated I felt betrayed….way, way,way past betrayed.   I was left in a rage trying to figure out how a plan that costs nothing, that helps many, and that had escape provisions of it didn’t work was the object of fear and hatred. I listened to the rhetoric about Barrack Obama and wondered how such an unrelenting hatred for one man could trump concern for 280,000 of your neighbors lives.  I could not understand how a state that receives more in federal aid  than it pays in federal taxes could be so insistent that the federal government was going to break its word.  How could a government which got 40% of its funds from federal money, and wouldn’t exist in its current form without federal money be so suspicious and so paranoid of this federal money? I was devastated and the truth is for a period of time I gave up.

For my wife and I it has been so long of a battle. It has been a year longer than any year. We separated December 26, 2013 because without Tenn Care expansion it was the only way to keep her insurance and give her access to medical care that she needed so badly. I started writing Governor Haslam letters a couple of months latter asking for help. For a long time I wrote every day and after 136 letters I heard he had decided to present Insure Tennessee to the legislature.

Ours was a circumstance borne of poverty and in many ways we were lucky. We had no terminal illness or immediate threat to deal with. For us it was trying to survive a system that said after 33 years of marriage we could not be together and trying to find sanity in what has been insanity.

I would like to say we are both better people but the truth is much more complex than that. We have both been hurt in a hundred thousand ways and face challenges every day we never really believed we would ever know. We both have given up more than one time. If Insure Tennessee dies….. I don’t know. I don’t know if we are better. We are different and some days it is not a good difference.

I have been lucky with my health. I need an operation, but it is a minor operation and if I am careful I should be alright. A trip to the doctor in the last few days tells me that perhaps some problems are on the narrow horizon and some of those may be serious, but for now I am okay.

I have been free from insurance for about 7 years now and although freedom is important to me that is a freedom I would gladly lose. I have never known of anybody without insurance who thought having it was a bad thing. I have never met anyone with insurance that hated it so bad they were willing to give me theirs. As I get older now and am beginning to see what is ahead I begin to see it more and more as a race. Will I, and countless others, get insurance while it still matters. I have known of people who lost the race. They died and didn’t have to. Insure Tennessee would win that race for so many. I pray it happens

I don’t want this to be the last weekend. With all of us trying it need not be. It is an uphill battle but one worth fighting. We can win and I can’t think of a more important victory.

Please speak out. You matter. We all matter. Insure Tennessee.

For Insure Tennessee……”Light one candle”

March 27, 2015 by

Peter, Paul and Mary – Light One Candle (25th Anniversary Concert): https://youtu.be/h1cRXgDFiSs

On Moral Monday…. and moral Tuesday

March 27, 2015 by

To the members of the Senate Commerce Committee:

Monday has been designated as Moral Monday for Insure Tennessee.  Clergy, people of faith, people who know that all politics is ultimately a moral question will gather to share their concerns, their ideas, their hopes and more than anything to pray for everybody wrestling with the questions and issues ahead.

Monday is Moral Monday.  Tuesday is up to you.

Tuesday will not simply be a question of what you are against.  At its core it is about what you are for.  It is not just about what you think we can afford to do, but even more what you think we can’t afford to not do.  It is not just about what we do or don’t do for the people of Tennessee.  It is about ultimately the kind of people we are.

I don’t believe the debate before you is about the best way to care. There are no competing proposals. It is about doing something different or doing nothing at all. A lot of attention has been diverted by people trying to claim this proposal will cost money we don’t have. Doing what we are doing now costs money we don’t have…..a lot of money we don’t have.

But more than that it has a moral cost we don’t have to pay. The people coming on Monday would tell you the Bible is quite clear all throughout about the treatment of the poor. It is never presented as a suggestion, but as an expectation or even a commandment.

Please search your heart. You are in the prayers of many including many who probably politically disagree with you. The fates of thousands and thousands of people you will never meet ride with your deliberations.

If we are to be the people we wish to be then there are some things we just can’t afford not to do. I believe this is one of those things.

Please, please Insure Tennessee.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

Dear Senator McNally: Look at what it saves

March 26, 2015 by

Dear Senator McNally:

I listened to much of the committee meeting last night on Insure Tennessee.  Honestly I was overjoyed that most of your colleagues did not share your opinion.

I am really not sure I totally understand your position but it seems you are concerned that Insure Tennessee is going to cost Tennessee money it doesn’t have.  You tried to prove your point by saying that the hospital money is really state money and thus it costs the state.  I think you know that is not true.  Insure Tennessee costs Tennessee not one cent that under other circumstances it might spend elsewhere.  The hospital money is earmarked to help the state of Tennessee pay for the cost of medical care for its poorest citizens that you and others say it cant afford.  Nothing is being taken.  It is a gift.  I don’t think any other state in this country has hospitals making the same gift.

But there is a much more important point.  You talk about cost that we cant afford.  What about the costs of the consequences of 280,000 uninsured Tennesseans?  What about the costs of doing nothing?

What about the rural hospitals already closed and the others on the chopping block?  Are we to have one standard of care for rural Tennesseans and one for those who live in cities?

What about the cost of people losing their jobs because they cant access the health care needed to maintain that job?

What about the cost of lives ruined by the consequences of illnesses we have the knowledge and tools to treat who cant access that care because they are poor?

What about the people who have died who didn’t have to?

What about those yet to die?

Senator McNally so much could be gained.  So much is now being lost.  What we are talking about is far more than what category you put the hospital money in.  It is not just a question of what we can afford to do (which we can 100% of 100% leaves nothing for Tennessee to pay) but most very importantly what we cant afford not to do.

Senator McNally I have never heard your plan or the plan of anyone who argues against Insure Tennessee.  Surely you would not have us do nothing while people get sick, while lives are ruined, while our health care system is under attack, while people die that don’t have to.  Surely not.

Please reconsider your position Senator McNally.  It is time, long past time to Insure Tennessee.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

The fight for Insure Tennessee

March 25, 2015 by

Insure Tennessee has resurfaced, thanks to some courageous senators in the Tennessee State Senate. In an hour it goes before a Senate Health Committee trying to survive the next step in the process. The papers today say it still faces serious obstacles. It is time for everyone to redouble their efforts and push even harder. In the end it is about whether or not justice will be found for so many Tennesseans that have waited so long. It is about so many lives unnecessarily ruined and so many more that need not be ruined.

The argument in Tennessee is not about competing models of care. Despite all the high sounding rhetoric there are no competing models. It is an argument for care versus a feverish search to make abandonment a political, financial and moral value. It is not about how to care, but rather or not to care at all. In the end it is about making turning your back on the more needy and more vulnerable amongst you a virtue and political necessity.

If it is about abandonment it is about the everyday, deep in the pit experience of terror. It is terror not just of the sickness or challenges you face, but a terror borne of the spirit killing certainty that when you are the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the most needy that no one will be there. It is in the recognition that because of your poverty, because of where you live, because of many things, most of which you have no control that for some inexplicable reason it is against the rules for you to get the help you need. 

It is about a system that says because of your financial status you will most likely die earlier than your fellow citizens.

It is about a system that says that ordinary and expected illnesses that medical science can treat or cure may go untreated for you even if it should mean your unnecessary death.

It is about a system in which any sickness may present you with financial catastrophe that you can never get past.

It is about a system that threatens your ability to keep a job and provide for your family if you cant get the medical care you need to stay healthy enough to keep that job.

It is about a system that tries to tell you that you are the cause of why it doesn’t work well rather than the victim of how it does work.

It is about a system that threatens the safety and security of your family and that in the end tells your children something is wrong with them.

It is about a system that attacks the heart and soul of its members as much as it ignores their bodies.

It is about a system that treats poverty as a crime and a moral failing.

It is about a system that in abandoning its most vulnerable would have each of us abandon something of the best of ourselves.

It is about a system long past time to change.

Your voice matters. Speak loudly and more loudly. Do not stop or turn around.


Identity and Recovery

March 25, 2015 by


From the archives

Originally posted on Hopeworks Community:

Disease management asks you to make changes despite who you are. The recovery model invites you to change because of who you can become.

The disease management model stains your identity with “what you got.” The recovery model liberates your identity with what you can overcome.

In the disease management model you are the source of deprivation. In the recovery model you are the source of strength.

Both see the reality of distress and misery in life although their accounts of it may widely differ. Only the recovery model sees the reality of transformed life.Identity is a major key in life.

Everything from the car we drive to the food we eat to the clothes we wear is sold on the basis of what it says about the kind of person we are. The identity of mentally ill is for many a “spoiled identity. ” It is not something likely…

View original 735 more words


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