As a woman of faith, I am called to be compassionate about the lives and wellbeing of others and I am committed to taking a stand and speaking out against social injustices. I wholeheartedly accept that God’s love for his creation is all encompassing and that His unbounding love ultimately seeks justice and liberation for all. One critical social justice principle that I am most passionate about today is health care.
Hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans cannot afford health insurance coverage. These residents are our neighbors, family members, essential workers, strangers, and members of our faith communities who are “in the gap” between being noninsured and having adequate health care coverage.
Tennesseans all across the State agree that changes need to be made to improve access to health care. No one in Tennessee should ever have to worry about having adequate health care coverage or face making difficult decisions just for survival. Seeking medical attention or paying the rent should never be competing choices in managing one’s health care. Far too many people are neglecting their health and that of their families because they simply cannot afford the associated costs to be healthy and provide for other basic needs.
One such person is Wanda who worships in the United Methodist faith tradition and lives in Anderson County. Not having access to employer sponsored health insurance, this single woman has long traveled the undesired and frightening road of being uninsured. For five months, Wanda had no coverage at all. She states that her prayers to not get sick and to not get injured was her health care coverage plan. Although she tried, she was constantly being turned away by providers and programs alike, all of whom sighted lack of income as the basis for her denial to receive even the most basic coverage.
Responding to a television commercial about health insurance, she discovered that the premiums were expensive and required large out of pocket payments for doctor visits and medications. After a serious injury to her ankle, Wanda was forced to make an appointment to see a doctor. A day before the appointment, the medical staff called to inform her that she needed to bring $250 in order to seen by the doctor. Not having advance notice of the significant fee, she was left with no viable alternative but to cancel the appointment – hoping, instead, to reschedule the visit when she had time to raise the money. Tennesseans, this is unacceptable.
I call upon Tennesseans of all faith communities to contact their legislative representatives and ask them to slam close the coverage gap in our State. Let them know that it is a moral imperative and our shared responsibility to ensure equal access to quality health care for everyone. We must all work together, through God’s grace, to face cancer, broken bones, and unpaid medical bills. Will you provide your leadership to address Tennessee’s health care coverage gap?
Donna M. Mosby lives in Oak Ridge and serves in many leadership roles within the Holston Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.