On Monday, the day before the 2019 legislative session, Tennessee healthcare voters gathered at the State Capitol to count the toll in lives, jobs and health care over the past year. The latest Vanderbilt poll shows that Tennessee voters want health care to be the top priority for elected officials. State lawmakers, who killed Gov. Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan, have yet to come up with an alternative.
Gov.-elect Lee has acknowledged voters’ health care concerns but has not revealed his health care plan. The voters demanded action on: pre-existing medical conditions; the crisis in rural hospitals, sky-high pharmaceutical costs, access to treatment for drug addictions, and financial security for the 300,000 working Tennesseans who have been denied access to health coverage.
Speakers included Mayor Jill Holland of McKenzie, Tenn., Dr. Veronica T. Mallett, and Michele Fardan.
Mayor Jill Holland addressed the closure of McKenzie Regional Hospital in Sept. 2018 and the rural healthcare crisis in our state. Tennessee leads the country in the rate of closures of rural hospitals, due in large part due to the Republicans in the state legislature refusal to expand Medicaid.
“What has happened in McKenzie is happening to too many other communities. When Tennessee is losing more hospitals for our size than any other state, we know it is not just a local problem. It is beyond the ability of local communities to solve, and we need the state’s help.”
Dr. Veronica T. Mallett is the senior vice president for Health Affairs, and dean of the School of Medicine at Meharry Medical College. Dr. Mallett addressed the sky-high costs of healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
“The Affordable Care Act made prescription drug coverage more affordable for millions of seniors on Medicare,” she said. “I am puzzled and upset that our own state government is suing to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides to my patients. We have a right to expect better of state officials, especially since we are all helping to pay for THEIR health coverage.”
Michele Fardan is a mother whose uninsured daughter died due to a treatable medical condition.