Ann Lucas has been a volunteer with the Tennessee Health Care Campaign (THCC) since 2013, serving both as a Certified Assistance Counselor and answering THCC’s statewide health coverage hotline that connects callers with in-person assisters across the state. She has been active in social justice reform efforts for over 40 years, since serving as chairman of the social justice committee of her Church.
“I firmly believe health care is a human right and should not be a political issue. Poor working people in Tennessee cannot get health insurance which is unacceptable and downright cruel. Our citizens are dying for no good reason!”
Here are some of the stories I’ve heard from callers this year who fall into the Medicaid Coverage Gap in our state.
A woman called who is in her 50’s and had to quit her job and move back to East Tennessee to take care of her 82-year-old mother who needed care during this time of COVID. She is living here now in Roane County as a full-time caregiver to her mom, and taking on-line courses to try to augment her skills for a time when she can return to work. She was seeking health insurance for herself. Unable to predict any income for 2021 she was hesitant to enroll in an ACA plan. She was dismayed to learn she was probably ineligible for coverage under TennCare, our state’s Medicaid program. I was able to give her information about federally qualified health centers and charitable care clinics in her county and suggested she talk with one of our non-profit insurance agents.
I also talked to a 46-year-old woman who formerly had a job as a contractor with a cleaning company. That company lost a major contract they had several months ago and so she was laid off and lost her health coverage. She could not afford COBRA. She was diagnosed last week with bladder cancer. Her only income is unemployment which will run out at the end of December, but that was only $70/week as she didn’t qualify for the extended benefits. She has already been using the local community health center which had arranged for the diagnosis. I referred her to one THCC’s non-profit insurance agents to see if there was any option other than to work with her primary care provider to arrange charitable care.
It just breaks my heart to hear these stories….and doesn’t seem that anyone in our state government is listening.”