The 100th letter

Note to the reader:

This is a milestone in a long process.  This is my 100th letter to Governor Haslam.  I started what seemed like a very long time ago.  I have tried to write every day since I started.  Life got in the way a couple of days.  On other days I have written 2 or 3 letters.  The letters have varied.  Some of them have been very personal.  Some have been more general and policy oriented.  Some have talked about what I believe about the morality of one part of a population denying health care to another part because they are poor.  More than once I have asked the question whether or not a state that defines one class of its citizens as disposable can ever be well.

Our story has been one of tragedy due to the Governors decision not to expand Tenn Care.  It has been told many times in many places and I wont bother repeating  it here.  The letters started first more for me than anything else.  They were my effort to stay sane in insane times and places.

Word spread though.  Our story got in the papers and went viral.  I dont know if Governor Haslam has ever read one of the letters personally.  He has never responded.  But 6000- 8000 people a day do read the letters and many of them have responded to me.  They have been astonished at a governor who seems to govern by avoiding what he doesnt want to hear.  Many have been astonished at his seeming unwillingness to be willing  to confront the Tea Party.  More than one has questioned his courage and his integrity.  One man wrote, “Ron Ramsey is not my governor.  He seems to believe he is.  What is more scary is that Bill Haslam seems to believe he is.”

Governor Haslam has finally announced that he will submit a plan for Tenn Care expansion to the federal government.  I am waiting to see.  I hope with everything inside me this is real.  If it is it will certainly make all these letters seem worthwhile.  But his word is no longer good enough and I am waiting to see what he actually does.

If he does then the real fight begins.  It will be a fight that all Tennesseans need to join.  It will be a fight I believe for the moral fabric of this state.  People die.  Everyone dies.  No one should die because the state they live in doesnt believe they are worth the effort.

Note:  IF you are a legislator this may be the first time you have seen one of  these letters.  With the Governor’s decision I plan to start sending many letters to the legislature on a regular basis.  I hope you will consider what I have to say.  Particularly in this matter you represent all Tennesseans and I have not considered rather you are my representative or not.  Right now you stand for all of us.

Enough said—- the 100th letter

 

 

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my 100th letter to you…..a milestone I never hoped to reach.

Although I have written 100 letters I have been far from the only Tennessean who has talked with you.  When I started trying to find names of people who had written you or emailed you or called you or done something to let you know their voice and their thoughts I was astonished.  I came up with a list of over 1200 names.  Just from what I could find on my own 1200 names.  Lord only knows how many people have actually contacted you.  Maybe they had something to do with your recent announcement about finally submitting a plan for Tenn Care expansion.  I hope so.

I am not going to list all of them in this letter although I am going to list quite a few.  Others will be listed in future letters.  Each name deserve to be read and heard and I decided that smaller lists are more likely to be read than larger lists.

The towns they come from are a map of Tennessee:  Knoxville, Millington, Greenback, Hendersonville, Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson, Portland, Clarksville, Mcminnville, Cordova, Oakland, Jefferson City, Mountain City, Kingsport,  Old Hickory, Jacksboro, Lebanon, Fairview, Cornersville, Springville, Martin, Franklin, Lenoir City, Seymour, Louisville, Monterey, Antioch,  Decherd, Sneedville, Erwin, and Bartlett.  And that is by no measure all.  After looking through the list it seems like every single community in the state is mentioned.  Everyone is saying please expand Tenn Care.

Here are some of the people who have spoke:

Marian Bacon (Marian was part of a project that sent you last I knew 893 letters by themselves) Dennis Hagood, Mary Hagood, Johnathon Hagood, Gretchen Kidd, Steve Brannon, Polly Murphy,  Todd Shelton, Rich Henighan, Walter Davis,  Kathy Flaherty, Moss Bliss, Kathryn Geter, Libby Johnson,  Judy Roitman,  Daisy Jabas, David Patterson, Ruth Holloway, Tracy Smith, Tony Garr, Madeleine Garr, Jackie Shrago, Lucy Henighan, Linda Rhodes
Danny Rhodes, Bobby Rhodes, Suzanne Centurion, Deb Waldron, Wayne Waldron, Anastasia Waldron, Vickie Wheeler, Lynn Fowlkes, Sue Hopkins, Nelly Piraja, Andrew Mayes, Jeff Hopkins, Ken Pierce, William Robertson,
Tanya Radic, Jessica McKee,  Tom Boughan,  Chris Drumright, John Reid,  Joseph DeGruchy,  Sarah Shelton,  Ashley Ray, Jason Hare,  Cherie Haggard,  Lori Lear, Kara Kinzalow,  Joyce Lavery,  Ariel Monserrat , Bruce Gordon,  Jacqueline Friederichsen, Raye Dene Berry, Kathy Terry,  Cindy Aiton,  Loreen Silvarahawk,  martha steele,  Phillip Shirley, Chad Bradburn, bethany dragoo,  Crystal Turnbow,  Andrew Melchior,  Nancy Sleem,  Torinna Daugherty,  Annette Norman,  Robert Nolter, RD McCarver,  Mickey Cherry,  jenifer insko,  Desirea Harrison,  roger wiesmeyer,  Lori Banks, Rebecca Doane,  Patricia Childress,  John Hammel, James Floyd, Melissa Rodgers, Brandy cole, Michael Freeman, Jay Armbruster,  archie starnes, Jacqueline Burcham,  Jonathon Parker,  Natasha Wynn,  Carla Bolles, Denise Richardson,  sandra conley, Sharon Hinson, Karen Berson, Betty Yeomans-Barton,  Zorina Bowen,  Kevin Vaught, Christine Coons, Shirley Nunley,  Mary Dotson,  Neil Hansen, Pan Awsumb, Elsie Pope,  Nicole Berkheimer, Sonya Ericson, Lisa BUSH, Peggy Loflin, Paula SImmons,  Holly Mills, Patricia Lawrence, Deborah Bush,  Marcella Hudson, Ariel Kincaid, vickie blair,  Troy Bidwell, Lindy Hamilton,  Karen Clarke,  Pat Pearce,  Katelyn Lauderback, Charles Law, Joan Justice,  Nykea Dickerson,  Pamela Lawson, Joyce Wheaton, Joshua Henderson, Jana Baber, Sasha Pack,  Monica Cooley,  P. E. Scott,  Paulette Denton,  Mary Bristow,  Andrew Elder,  Hal Watts,  Mary Wilt, Diane Hinkle , Toni Fireheart, Laura Belew,  Deborah Mays , Vincent Harriman , Carl Hellerqvist, Denise Moses,  Penny Dodds , Laura Wolfe , Joyce Fortner,  Stephanie Reeves,  Kathy Salinas,  Rachel Peterson,  Catherine Hill, Frank Cooper, Merlyn Alexander, cynthia heston, Freddie Garrette , Vicki Dills,  John Shannon , Charlene Harmon, Shnaro Smith,  Kathlyn McCaughna, amanda poe , Sheila Jefferson , Tresa Reed Crutchfield,  Robert Tompkins,  LIsa Venegas,  David Regen, louise revis,  R Lessner, carol pearcy, and Pam Hagy.

Governor this is barely a beginning to the list.  I will share more in succeeding letters.

Virtually every major newspaper in the state has come out in favor of expansion.  I dont know of one that has not.  Virtually every professional organization that has anything at all to do with health care has come out in favor of expansion.   The list is impressive.  The voices are loud and getting louder.

Governor the people of Tennessee want Tenn Care expansion.  I applaud your recent announcement.  It is a first step, but only a first step.  Please continue to act.  Please continue the conversation.  Expand Tenn Care.  Please.

Untill tomorrow.

 

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

 

Another another letter

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is another another letter.

The majority leader of the Senate says he knows you are not serious about Tenn Care because you have not talked with him yet. Sounds like he thinks you need his permission.

Somebody did not get the memo. Hope it was him.

Until the 100th letter.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

Just another letter

Dear Governor Haslam:

This one doesnt have a number or a name. It is just another letter.

The 100th letter should be done in a couple more days. It has become more involved than I anticipated. I had planned in the letter to list all the names of the people I can find that have contacted you in some way to ask you to extend Tenn Care. Right now I have close to 1200 names. I had originally planned to put all these names in that letter but decided that was overkill. I will probably share them about 200 a time over several letters. I am afraid that too many names at a time make it easy not to read any and all these names deserve to be read.

But none of that is the purpose of this letter. I have struggled with your announcement of your intention to submit a plan to expand Tenn Care to the General Assembly. My first reaction was exhilaration and that is still part of the way I feel but

You made a substantial contribution to the mess we are in. You backed away from a fight you could have won because it was a difficult fight to make in the spring. You have ignored the cries of thousands of people for help. You dont talk to ordinary people you think will confront you. Tenn Care according to CMS is struggling with just being legal. It is a hypocritical joke that you complain about the healthcare.gov website when Tennessee cant even get a website up. Saying you are going to do better is not the same as doing better. And it doesnt change anything at all about the misery you have caused.

When you do something and you do something that matters my plan is to support you in that effort. My biggest disappointment in you was the tea party said jump and you said how high. If you had made the earlier fight and lost the fight to come would have been easier.

Governor nothing you have said changes one thing for me. My visit to the ER this weekend left me without bad news. My anxiety there was really not about what might be wrong but what I would do if something was wrong. I still dont know. What about all the people without insurance who go to the ER and do get bad news?? What about them?

The fight ahead is months long. I hope you are up to it. It is not really a political battle although it will be fought as one. It is a moral battle being fought for the lives of people who have no where else to turn and a spiritual battle for the soul of this state. Never forget that.

Until the 100th letter.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

The 98th letter: If anyone had told me I would still be writing…

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my 98th letter to you.

When this started if anyone had told me I would still be writing and that I never would have even seen a note from you let alone talk to you I would have told them they were crazy. 

People want change. Virtually every major newspaper in this state has come out in favor of Tenn Care expansion. Countless professional organizations have also.

Submit your plan. If you want us to believe your voice we must know that you have heard ours.

Talk with us.

Until tomorrow.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

The 99th letter: Tomorrow will be the 100th letter

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my 99th letter to you.  

Tomorrow will be my 100th letter to you.  It may be a day or two late.  I am trying to gather some names of others that I know have written you and include them in what I have to say.  Everyone is talking……Except you.

I also plan to send the 100th letter to all members of the state legislature.  That is a practice I will regularly follow with the next 100 letters.

I hope soon to hear from you.  Start the conversation on Tenn Care expansion.  Please.

Until tomorrow.  Or the day after

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

A third 97th letter: In the E.R. The health system for the uninsured

Governor Haslam:

This is my 3rd 97th letter to you.

The ER is the medical system for poor people with no insurance.  I know.  I am there.

I came about 4 or 5 hours ago.  I was having severe pains in my chest and thought I was, despite feeling like my heart was in great shape, scared to death I was having a heart attack.  I wasnt but medical catastrophes take on new meaning when you are afraid you need something to stay alive that you have no insurance and  no way to access.  It is complete terror.   I was lucky.  But the terror was real, very real.

I am still here and they are still doing tests.  I think they think something is wrong with my gall bladder, but I dont know and neither do they yet.  If they say I need surgery of some kind (and God I hope they dont)what would you have me do governor??  I hope for a false alarm.  I really hope for a false alarm, but what if it is not?  The heart attack horror is gone, but what horror is next.

Governor I am not the only person who cant wait.  Some old stuff at same old speed wont cut it.  Obviously you cant do anything about today.  It is whatever it is, but you can do so much about so many tomorrows for so many people.

Governor act now.  What is the plan?

Until tomorrow.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

A Second 97th letter: the news on medicaid expansion

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my second 97th letter to you and one of the most important ones in light of last nights news.

The Governor of Pennsylvania announced that he is expanding medicaid to over 500,000 people. Last night you announced your commitment to submitting a plan for Tenn Care expansion to the federal government this fall. To put it mildly I was pleased but:

More than ever it is important that you act quickly. Millions of dollars are being lost each day and thousands of people face health issues and risks they should not have to face. Do not tell people the boat is coming and then let them die waiting. Your commitment to act is also a commitment to act quickly. I hope you recognize that.

I hope your commitment to submit a plan means you already have a plan and not that you have decided to devise one. I hope you will make public where that stands. You have already had a long time to “plan”. You have to basically know what will fly with the federal government and what wont fly. YOUR STATEMENT LAST NIGHT DOES NOT GIVE YOU MORE TIME. IT GIVES YOU LESS.

It is time….WHAT IS THE TENNESSEE PLAN? Many people more than ever are wondering if this is simply a political maneuver to deflect attention and pressure. Some people believe it is your response to the lawsuit Tennessee faces. You need to follow up and reach out. This is not the time to retreat behind a wall of secrecy.

You have the fight of your political life ahead if you really do this. You know that. Call on the people to support you. Give them a plan that matters and a governor worth following and I think they will. I hope you have the grit for what is ahead.

In the previous post I talked about wondering when you would decide you were my governor too. I hope this means you have made that decision.

On a personal note: For the first time in a long time I am hopeful that my wife and I may be able to live together again. This has been a forever nightmare for us and part of keeping sane has been learning to live like it is forever. Please dont let us down. Please dont let us down.

Until tomorrow.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

Half A Million More Americans To Get Health Care As GOP Gov Caves – http://huff.to/1tPeNMk

The 97th letter: Be my governor

Dear Governor Haslam: 

This is my 97th letter to you.

I talked with someone the other day who couldnt go see a doctor although they needed to very badly.  We  talked about you.

She asked:  “I voted for him….but I guess my vote didnt count…  Do you think he will ever be my governor….”

My reply was simple,   “I hope someday he will be mine….”

Until tomorrow,

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

Dear Governor Haslam: from Walter Davis

Dear Governor Haslam:

In your State of the State Address you said: “I believe that more Tennesseans having health care is good for our state.  <<”Amen! From the crowd”>>

For Tennessee to be America at its best, we must get health care right << “Amen! From the crowd”>>

— for those who need health care coverage and for the long-term fiscal health of our state.”

Many Tennesseans get good health care and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has helped make that true for over 150,000 newly insured.

Some Tennesseans get the best health care money can buy.

But too many Tennesseans get emergency room health care or none at all.

Governor you say, Tennessee is America at its best. You say you have a plan but it remains undefined and invisible.

This beautiful land could be America at its best. You have a rare opportunity to make that happen, assure that all Tennesseans can find health care they need. The money is there. By the end of this year, you will have thrown away $1 billion in federal funds that could have provided health insurance for thousands, saved community hospitals and kept jobs here in the state. Some say that number is far too low an estimate.

Richard Nixon said, “Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. It is thus just as important that economic, racial and social barriers not stand in the way of good health care as it is to eliminate those barriers to a good education and a good job.” He said that 40 years ago. [February 6, 1974]

It has taken one hundred years to reach the point where we can build a health care system where all could have access. Tennessee should not  turn in an oppositve direction, abandoning tens of thousands to desperation and bankruptcy.

Gov. Haslam you say, “We are a model to the nation.” We could be. But right now, we are a model of how not to do it.  The path we are on now is one that builds a separate but unequal system of health care – where money alone determines whether you get care. That’s not a good model.  It serves none of us to have a neighbor dying for lack of medication or a necessary procedure.  Please Governor, have the courage to meet with the people thrown into a gap, locked out, by your decision.

Your fiscal calculations are cold dead facts rather than living analysis. What is the cost to a community to lose it local hospital? Of course, jobs. Of course, timely access in emergencies but there is more – the sense of value a community holds dear for its people, a sense of control over one’s destiny and the ability to plan and build a healthier place for people.

That’s a social cost. Beyond your budget, communities are losing much more – lose a hospital, close an emergency room, lose professionals with keystone salaries, weaken the tax base, see young people leave, and fail working people who have built this state.

Governor, do the right thing. Do the moral thing. Take the federal funds, repair TennCare, put TennCare workers back in DHS offices and hospitals, widen the enrollment in TennCare, control costs in a responsible way not a slash and burn way, keep our hospitals open.

Remember your own words:

“I believe that more Tennesseans having health care is good for our state.”

Yours impatiently,

Walter Davis

Dear Governor Haslam:

In your State of the State Address you said: “I believe that more Tennesseans having health care is good for our state.  <<”Amen! From the crowd”>>

For Tennessee to be America at its best, we must get health care right << “Amen! From the crowd”>>

— for those who need health care coverage and for the long-term fiscal health of our state.”

Many Tennesseans get good health care and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has helped make that true for over 150,000 newly insured.

Some Tennesseans get the best health care money can buy.

But too many Tennesseans get emergency room health care or none at all.

Governor you say, Tennessee is America at its best. You say you have a plan but it remains undefined and invisible.

This beautiful land could be America at its best. You have a rare opportunity to make that happen, assure that all Tennesseans can find health care they need. The money is there. By the end of this year, you will have thrown away $1 billion in federal funds that could have provided health insurance for thousands, saved community hospitals and kept jobs here in the state. Some say that number is far too low an estimate.

Richard Nixon said, “Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. It is thus just as important that economic, racial and social barriers not stand in the way of good health care as it is to eliminate those barriers to a good education and a good job.” He said that 40 years ago. [February 6, 1974]

It has taken one hundred years to reach the point where we can build a health care system where all could have access. Tennessee should not  turn in an oppositve direction, abandoning tens of thousands to desperation and bankruptcy.

Gov. Haslam you say, “We are a model to the nation.” We could be. But right now, we are a model of how not to do it.  The path we are on now is one that builds a separate but unequal system of health care – where money alone determines whether you get care. That’s not a good model.  It serves none of us to have a neighbor dying for lack of medication or a necessary procedure.  Please Governor, have the courage to meet with the people thrown into a gap, locked out, by your decision.

Your fiscal calculations are cold dead facts rather than living analysis. What is the cost to a community to lose it local hospital? Of course, jobs. Of course, timely access in emergencies but there is more – the sense of value a community holds dear for its people, a sense of control over one’s destiny and the ability to plan and build a healthier place for people.

That’s a social cost. Beyond your budget, communities are losing much more – lose a hospital, close an emergency room, lose professionals with keystone salaries, weaken the tax base, see young people leave, and fail working people who have built this state.

Governor, do the right thing. Do the moral thing. Take the federal funds, repair TennCare, put TennCare workers back in DHS offices and hospitals, widen the enrollment in TennCare, control costs in a responsible way not a slash and burn way, keep our hospitals open.

Remember your own words:

“I believe that more Tennesseans having health care is good for our state.”

Yours impatiently,

Walter Davis

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