Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Message To Our State Legislature

Dear Rep. Susan Lynn & TN State Legislators:

I understand you are considering legislation that would allow Tennessee to “opt out” of any federal law the state doesn’t like, with the pending healthcare reform bill the first on your kill list.

Setting aside for the moment the dubious constitutionality of such legislation, I’d like to ask what your alternative healthcare plan for Tennessee might be.

A few things for you to consider (stats via Families USA & THCC and TN’s Small Businesses & Factors Influencing Health Insurance Coverage):

• For 2007-2008, 32.4% of Tennesseans under the age of 65 were uninsured.

• 74.7% of them were members of working families.

• 45% of Tennessee’s small businesses did not offer their employees insurance, with cost listed as the most common reason why.

Please tell me what your solution is for these problems. I understand you don’t like Congress' pending bill--I don’t like it either (for reasons completely different from yours). But I’ll take it over what we’ve got now.

Which is:

We have the nation’s highest infant mortality rates.

• We’re the fourth fattest state in the nation.

• Medical bankruptcy is a growing problem in the state.

• We rank third in the nation for deaths from stroke and Cerebrovascular disease.

• We rank fourth in the nation for cancer deaths.

Even conceding that some of these figures are a couple of years old, there’s no denying the obvious: We’re not the healthiest bunch, and it’s affecting everyone’s pocket book. So, what’s your grand idea?

Healthcare has been the number one topic occupying the nation for the past year. So I’d like to know what you’ve done to get Tennesseans access to affordable health insurance in the past few months. Frankly, I think y'all should be ashamed of yourselves. Every year our state budget is slashed, cutting more people from the state’s health insurance program and slashing benefits. Every year. Next year looks worse.

What did you people do with your time in the legislature? You passed a bill cutting $1.1 million in state funds from Planned Parenthood. You passed SJR 127, the anti-abortion bill. And we had the guns-in-bars and guns-in-parks bills.

But anything to actually help people access health insurance or get healthcare or make them healthier in general? Bubkis.

So, since you’ve made clear that you don’t like Congress' pending plan, and you’ve done absolutely nothing to help Tennesseans access affordable health insurance, I can only assume you’re happy with the status quo. You think the healthcare situation in Tennessee is just fine the way it is, and all of those people dying of strokes and cancer and the newborn babies dying because of lack of prenatal care and the mentally ill who are unable to get treatment because the clinic was closed ... well, I guess that’s all just fine with you. Is that right?

If not, I’d like to hear your alternative plan to what the U.S. Congress is close to passing. How are we going to get people the insurance they need to access healthcare?

I'll be waiting.


Southern Beale