As you may know if you obssessively read the back pages of the newspapers, or if you happen to live in Tennessee, the Volunteer State is making drastic cuts to its Medicaid program -- they've already thrown 200,000 of the state's sickest people off the roles, and instituted the most restrictive prescription drug benefit in the country. More cuts are set for January. According to the Tennessee Health Care Campaign:
Governor Phil Bredesen’s new plans for TennCare will have a detrimental impact on the health care and health outcomes for all of the 1.3 million people currently enrolled in TennCare. Under the Governor’s proposal approximately:
226,000 enrollees will likely be cut from the TennCare program altogether and most of these will join the ranks of the uninsured;
97,000 enrollees will be subject to draconian benefit limits and their coverage will terminate over the next year;
396,000 enrollees, no matter how sick, will have drastically limited health care services and treatments; and
Every single person who remains on the program will face a new definition of “medical necessity” that will limit their ability to obtain needed care.
Much of this has now happened. The specific details, which you can read all about, are too disgusting for words. This is going to happen in other states, if we don't fight back. I'll say it again -- the solution is universal, comprehensive, single payer national health care. But meanwhile, we must defend Medicaid, and build it up, not let it be trashed. The Tennessee Health Care Campaign has organized meetings, vigils and demonstrations across the state, including a sit-in in the Governor's office. They are trying to raise funds now to hire community organizers to work throughout the state to reverse the cuts.
Oh yeah, there's Senator Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). Remember Terri Schiavo and the Culture of Life, Senator? Unfortunately, almost all of these 700,000+ people have functioning cerebral cortexes. Therefore Frist doesn't care whether they live or die.