Tennessee has not expanded Medicaid. Most adults with low income in Tennessee fall into the Medicaid coverage gap. They do not meet the criteria for Medicaid, or TennCare, and they do not make enough money to qualify for premium help under the Affordable Care Act. People in the coverage gap in Tennessee cannot afford insurance coverage.
Below, Larry pens a letter to Tennessee Gov. Lee on how TennCare has saved his wife Linda’s life – and how Medicaid expansion in Tennessee would positively impact the health of so many Tennesseans and save lives.
Dear Governor Lee,
Insurance is about money but that is not mainly what it is about. It is about politics but that is not mainly what it is about. For many, many people it is about miracles.
Perhaps you have not known the miracle of it. Perhaps you have been lucky and never known anyone who begged for insurance, who prayed for it. Perhaps you have never known anybody who knows that things that are not supposed to kill you may kill them. Perhaps you have been lucky but a lot of Tennesseans haven’t been.
Insurance can be and is a miracle in the lives of countless people. You and every person in the legislature literally has the chance to be a miracle worker….or prevent miracles in the lives of people who pray for little else. Perhaps you have never thought about it or perhaps you have never seen the miracle. I don’t know. I want to introduce you to such a miracle….Her name is Linda. She is my wife.
Linda has TennCare and it has saved her life. Without being overly dramatic or emotional it is simply a fact. It has saved her life.
We have had to fight for it. On more than one occasion, it looked like it was about to be gone. I remember many years ago writing Governor Bredesen a letter asking him not to kill my wife. On another occasion, it looked like she was on the cut list and I can remember coming to the state legislature to testify asking for mercy. But TennCare has stayed steady. Thank God it has stayed steady.
Linda has had seizures since birth. 15 years ago a good day for her was 10-15 grand mal seizures. There weren’t many good days. Finally she hurt herself really bad. She fell down a flight of stairs during a seizure and hit her face on the banister. She literally broke her face.
Doctors told her medicine wasn’t going to work. They said she had two choices: have brain surgery or eventually the damage from seizures would get so bad she would be unable to care for herself. In the end, she would die.
We knew about death. There is something called status epilepticus. It means going into continuous seizures until you die. I have seen her status 3 times. You race to the ER and if you get there in time they can normally stop the seizures. If you don’t, you die. We have known two people who have died. So far it is a race we have won every time.
She had the surgery. Seizures were gone for a while and then in a couple of years they came back as bad if not worse than ever. Doctors….medical care…made the difference. She still has seizures but we are in a different world than what we previously lived in. She is a TennCare miracle but she is a miracle that must be redone each and every day.
I write all this not to bring attention to us or to say that in some way we are special. We are not. There are many people like Linda out there and with your help there can be many more. I know three people right now who have seizures with no insurance. They have no doctor…no medication. They need a miracle. They have been hurt multiple times. Their lives are a shell of what they could be. And eventually they will probably have to run the “status race” too. I pray they win.
What you save, what you could save is worth so much more than anything you think you are actually saving. In a couple of days, you could make more difference to more people than you have made in your entire legislative career. You could give miracles.
Governor Lee you could literally bring a miracle to countless Tennesseans. Don’t take from them something so important. If in the end we do less for less people, what kind of people does that make us? I have known people who died who didn’t need to.
Fight for Tennessee. Fight for Tennesseans.