The second new letter: the only train leaving the station

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my new second letter to you.

I asked a friend what he thought about “Insure Tennessee.” His answer was simple. “It’s the only train living the station. The only choice is stay or go…stay or go.”

I dont see how anyone could choose to stay. I really dont.

I have been very disturbed by what I have read about the legislative response to your call for a special session on “Insure Tennessee.” You have a lieutenant governor who wants to tell the House what to do. It sounds like what he is really hoping they say no so he wont have to publicly say yes. You have a Speaker who is hoping soon to send a survey to her constituents to find out if they are interested. You have a majority leader in the House who says if the lt. governor is going to tell the House what to do there wont be a special session. You have a majority leader in the Senate who is not sure he wants to introduce the resolution. You have two Tea Party guys thinking ahead and trying to outlaw Tennessee even thinking about running a state exchange if the Supreme Court case goes badly. Virtually every other legislator is being quiet while they “study” your proposal (really trying to figure out what it is politically safe to publicly say). The Democrats are saying if you dont give them some attention that many of them may not vote for it because they want something better (they missed the only train part). Enthusiasm for “Insure Tennessee” seems to be in remarkably short supply as the political atmosphere gets more and more confused. It does not inspire confidence.

Meanwhile virtually every public organization, every newspaper, every everything has come out enthusiastically for Insure Tennessee. It is they say for a thousand reasons a no brainer. The only real question seems to be whether or not legislators are afraid they will be tarred with the Obamacare brush. And who will tell the others the water is safe and telling them to come on in.

The people in the coverage gap are excited and hope there really will be a law to insure Tennessee. They hope the last month is stage fright and the best is yet to come. I hope they are right.

I hope you continue to push. Tennessee needs strong leadership. Tennessee needs you. It is the only train leaving the station and my prayer is that all the seats will be full.

My prayers my support and my best wishes are with you.

Until next time.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

The new first letter: On the integrity of the state

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my new first letter to you.

I honestly thought this blog had served its purpose and it was time to trust the process.  Insure Tennessee is the best thing you have done as governor.  For many, many reasons it is the best thing.  The active support you have received since then has been gratifying for me to see.  Tennesseans from every walk, from every strata of Tennessee have stepped forward.  Not only is Insure Tennessee the smart thing to do but it is the right thing to do.  It is Tennessee for all Tennesseans.

I knew there would be a fight and I am okay with that.  But in recent days I have read much and heard much that bothers me.  People whose judgement I trust tell me there is more than a little chance Insure Tennessee will never get to the point of an up or down vote in the legislature.  There is a chance they tell me it will die in a House committee.  Outrage doesnt begin to describe my reaction.

For a small group of people to still the voices of everyone is an attack on the integrity of Tennessee.  Regardless of how people feel about Insure Tennessee everyone should be for a straight up or down vote.  We are all victimized by less than that.

You are the Governor and this is now about so much more than Insure Tennessee (which you know is everything to me).  You have been asked to submit a plan and you have submitted a plan.  And for that plan not to receive full consideration of all the legislature is a robbery not just of your voice but that of every Tennessean.

I hope you will speak loudly to this issue and urge your supporters to do the same.  Tennessee for Tennesseans.  We all deserve that.  We deserve to hear the sense of the people and not just political maneuvers.

Until next time.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

To the readers

Thanks to each and every person who has read this blog.  You have saved me.  This has been a year of extraordinary pain and suffering for Linda and me.  The hope of expansion kept us going.

When I talked to the Governors office last I asked them if they knew anything about Linda and me.  They said they had received hundreds and hundreds of calls or letters.  That was each and everyone of you.  Thank you.

This blog has served its purpose and barring extraordinary events will not return.  This will be the last post.

The battle shifts now to the legislature and I hope each and everyone will lend your voice in support of “Insure Tennessee.”  I know my voice will be loud.

It has been a long year.  I look forward to being home with my wife.

The 134th letter: Thank you

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my 134th letter to you and perhaps the last one.

On May 19, 2014 I wrote my first letter to you. As much as I could until fairly recently I wrote you every day. I don’t think there is a part of the issue that I haven’t spoke about. I really tried to say only a couple of things: lots of people- ordinary Tennesseans- were being hurt unnecessarily and that it was time for Tennessee to be for all Tennesseans. Today I felt proud to be a Tennessean.

I want to personally thank you for your announcement of the “Insure Tennessee” program today. I am very grateful. Like everyone else I am scrambling right now to get the specific details about how it will work and I am sure there will be things I don’t like, but what I do like is that you stepped up. I appreciate your courage in doing this and I want to offer my support in any and every way possible to help make “Insure Tennessee” a reality. It is time. It is so much time.

The last year has been past words for me. Much of what was real and important has been upended and turned about. More than once I gave up and more than once I wanted to quit. I know you have heard the story more times than you wanted to. Today you give me hope.

Again thanks.

For a final time.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

The 133rd letter: Haircuts and health care

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my 133rd letter to you.

In the last 48 hours I have found out something that really bothers me. It is about haircuts (and a whole list of other things) and it bears very directly on health care.

I have heard you and other people complain about Tenn Care expansion as something so difficult and daunting that financially we may not survive it. I listened to the Tenn Care director describe what will turn out to be about $400 million in Tenn Care cuts. And then I got the news on hair cuts.

According to the Revenue department there are about $4 billion (with a b) in revenue not collected because of the things we are not required to pay sales tax on. Like haircuts. (The other things on the list are just as vital.) And on top of that your Republican leadership is talking about decreasing the sales tax so that for every $10 I spend I pay 4 cents less in sale taxes. And you are asking for a 7% budget decrease which is going to hurt the most vulnerable more than anything else. Does any of this sound absurd to you?? Perhaps financial responsibility might work better if you tried not giving away legitimate sources of funding and cutting needed services instead.

Come on Governor. We can do better.

Until next time.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

The 132nd letter: speak to values

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my 132nd letter to you.

A suggestion.  Speak more to values.  When people hear you speak about the Tennessee plan in what comes across as almost a grudging tone they dont buy into what you are saying.  They dont feel like it is a mission with you, just a maybe.

When you talk with the legislature it will have to be about more than what we can afford to do.  It will have to be a strong statement about what we cant afford not to do.

Until next time.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

The 131st letter: my Christmas wish

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my 131st letter to you.   When these letters started my goal was really simple.  I wanted you to agree to submit a plan for Tenn Care expansion to the legislature. Initially I was told the likelihood of that happening was close to nothing.  The political reality made it see an unlikely dream…

You have announced a final decision will be announced by Christmas and my hope is that you will announce a Tennessee Plan that will become a Tennessee reality.  Many people I know doubt your sincerity.  They think Christmas will simply bring more excuses about a failure “someone else is responsible for.”  My hope is they are wrong.

My hope is that the New year brings proof of a commitment that so far sadly lacking.  So much suffering, so much damage, so much hurt for so many people seems to have fallen curiously below the radar.  I hope that the coming year sees a Tennessee where no one is disposable and adequate and affordable health care a reality for all.  That is my Christmas wish.

I plan to continue writing you.  The combination of the approaching battle on Tenn Care expansion,  questions about Tenn Care funding in the budget,  and the many challenges facing the Tennessee Health care system mark the coming months as some of the most important in our history.  Your legacy as governor will be defined by how you deal with these issues.

On a personal note December 26 will mark the one year anniversary of mine and Linda’s separation, a separation borne out of your decision not to expand Tenn Care earlier.  I can never put into words what it has been like for us.

Until next time.

Yours truly,
Larry Drain