A second tenth letter: more to say

Dear Governor Haslam:

Please forgive me, but this is the second tenth letter. Reading back over the last letter there was something more I wanted to say.  And it seemed an important way to end the first ten letters.

There is a big gap in Tennessee between those who believe their voice counts and those who believe they have no voice.  If you are poor the overwhelming message right now is that your voice is not important.  There are people whose life is in danger right from lack of medical care now who believe it is pointless to speak and if they do it should always be with apology.  As Governor that should alarm and scare you.  The overwhelming message they get is that they are disposable and their lives an inconvenience.

People who are poor, who have no insurance, who are sick or have family sick no longer believe anyone listens and that even their screams and cries are as a whisper. 

It is accepted as common wisdom in this state that it is pointless to talk about TennCare expansion.  Any reporter, any political figure will tell you it isnt going anywhere.

If people lose faith in the government do we not in the end lose faith in each other and eventually in ourselves??  As Governor my prayer is that you find a way to reach out to people who are convinced that you dont care and tell them you do.  We really need that right now.

I really struggled with the decision to even start writing these letters.  There was a part of me that said “what’s the point?  Really what is the point??”

I came to believe that this was about much more than rather or not in the end you agree with me.  In some sense it was about soul, about voice, about encouraging others and especially encouraging me not to give up on the fundamental decency of my neighbors.

Governor Haslam we could use some help here.  Sometimes it feels like there is no one at the other end of the line.

Please expand TennCare.  You can start by resuming the conversation.  We are counting on you and really need your voice.

Until tomorrow.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

The 10th letter: Why not Tennessee

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my 10th letter to you.

It asks a simple question.  Why not Tennessee??

The video below explains what it now means to be a Kentuckian.  I look forward to the day when you can have the same discussion about what it means to be a Tennessean.

Beshear: Expanding Medicaid will create stronger …: http://youtu.be/Ck6JmfkBu3c.

Until tomorrow,

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

A memorial day letter: from Judy Roitman

Dear Governor Haslam:

Memorial Day reminds us of the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans. But beyond the speeches, is Governor Bill Haslam really demonstrating he cares? Here are some facts from the National Health Law Program: 
35,000 veterans in Tennessee do not have health insurance. In addition, 20,000 family members of veterans do not have health insurance.

• Uninsured veterans suffer from significant health problems. One-third of uninsured veterans have at least one chronic health condition, 15.3 percent are in fair or poor health, and 15.9 percent are limited because of physical, mental, or emotions problems.

• Uninsured veterans and their families struggle to get the health care they need. Over 40 percent of uninsured veterans have unmet medical needs, and 33.7 percent have delayed care due to cost. More than half of veterans’ family members also have unmet medical needs, and 44.1 percent have delayed care due to cost.

Governor Bill Haslam, expanding Medicaid in Tennessee would show veterans you truly honor their service.

Judy thanks for sharing.  You are so right on the money.

The ninth letter: solving short term problems with long term problems

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my ninth letter.

I want to talk about problem solving.  You are a businessman and you know a lot about that.

The curse of government in Tennessee has been solving short-term problems by creating long-term problems.    Simply,  if you refuse to pay for services you must pay for the consequences caused by the lack of those services.  Normally those consequences are much worse and much more costly.  Sometimes the take a little longer to show and are easier to ignore.

The expansion of TennCare is a perfect example.  Sickness and illness of all sorts and kinds will have a consequence in the lives of the over 100,000 who are denied access to decent medical care.  It will have a consequence in the lives of their families.  It will have a consequence for their communities.  It will have a consequence for the lives of everyone who touches their lives in any way.  It will touch us all.  It will have profound financial repercussions.  It will have profound social repercussions.  It will have profound moral repercussions.

It for many people will become what it means to be a Tennessean.  That cant be what you want.

Look ahead.  Act in the long-term interests of your customers.  There is a reality more real than the starkest political reality.  Ask someone who is sick with nowhere to turn.  Ask someone who fears the system set up to help them in the end will kill them.  Please look ahead.

I would not have your job for anything.  I have a hard time being responsible for me.  I cant imagine dealing with the responsibility you have.

Governor you owe us your best.  We need your best.  Please stand up for TennCare expansion.  Please.

Till tomorrow.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

Reclaim the conversation

The dominant conversation about expanding TennCare defines opposition to expansion as being supportive of freedom and being for financially responsible choices. It is neither, but a conversation with such a dominant narrative is unlikely to be one we are effective in.

We must make an attempt to reclaim the conversation. In a small way that is what this website is trying to do.

I am starting to hear from other people who are joining the “Dear Governor Haslam” campaign. They too will be writing and asking others to join them. One major statewide organization has offered their support (Tennessee Health Care Campaign). Another major state organization has also offered their support and I hope to announce them by the end of the week.

Will you help? Help us to reclaim the conversation. Help make TennCare expansion possible and ultimately reality for so many.

The eighth letter: prayer

Dear Governor Haslam :

This is my eighth letter to you.

On this Sunday all I really want to do is tell you that I am praying for you.  I pray God gives you good health and spirits.  I hope he gives you wisdom and discernment and courage. 

I am asking everyone else to join in these prayers.

I understand you are a person of faith.  So am I.  I wanted to share this scripture with you.  It is Micah 6:8….

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Governor Haslam may God be with you.

Until tomorrow.

Yours truly,
Larry Drain

The seventh letter: justice

Dear Governor Haslam: 

This is my seventh letter to you.

It will be brief.  Your job description is justice.  I really think it is that simple.  Your job is through your decisions, your leadership and your modeling to give the people of this state the fairest chance availible to live a good and decent life.  Period.  Everything else is gravy.

How can there be justice without healthcare justice?? Where is the justice when some people are disposable??  Where is the justice in a society that treats the less priveliged members of it as though they were burdens and cost too much.  If justice for you, for me, for anyone is purchased with the misfortune of others do any of us have any real justice??  Are not we all diminished??

It is about being the governor of all Tennesseans even when it makes those you seek political favor from angry.  It is not just about being right it is about being good.

I hope you have a great Memorial day..  While thinking about the sacrifices of so many to make this a great country I hope you consider the challenges ahead facing you to make Tennessee a great state with justice for all and a state where no one will die because they cant access adequate medical care we all should have.

Governor please stand up for all of us.  Expand medicaid.

Until tomorrow,

Yours truly.

Larry Drain.

Tennessee Health Care Campaign

I am very pleased to announce the support of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign for this website.  They will be posting all the letters written to Governor Haslam on their website.  Will you support the effort also??

If you will write to Governor Haslam and ask two friends to do the same and ask each of them to ask two friends before you know it we will begin to redefine the conversation about medicaid expansion.

Please take a few minutes of time each day.  A small investment of time could mean so much.

The sixth letter: the danger

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my sixth letter to you.

Not expanding medicaid makes it more dangerous for all Tennesseans, rather they have insurance or not.

One hospital has closed and it seems inevitable that others will close.  Tennesseans who live in rural communities will not have the same access to health care that others have.  Should healthcare next become a function of where you live as well as how much money you have.  We have begun the first steps down that path.  It will be a path of even further injustice, of further misery and sickness, and for some a path of unnecessary death.  You can stop it now.  Expand medicaid.

But it goes so much further than even that.  Big city hospitals like Erlanger are in trouble.  In the end there is a limit to how much uncompensated care anyone can eat.  Do you believe this is simply rhettoric??  This is not about Obama or democrats or republicans or tea party.  This is about people who entrusted you with the governship.  They dont owe you.  You owe them.

It is time to stop working on the Tennessee plan and make it work.  You can do better.

Where I live the hospital is losing more and more money with each day.  They dont publicize it because they are afraid of what it would do for public confidence but they are reducing staff.  There are not as many nurses, not as many other staff.  They shuffle and plug the best they can, but eventually there has to be a gap somewhere and there will be a tragedy.  Hopefully no one will die.  I dont think my hospital is the only one.

Not expanding medicaid increases the risk of all Tennesseans when in need and in good faith they seek medical care.  Without action on your part it can only get worse.  Please act now.  Acting will not get easier with waiting.  Isnt it time for you to take some political risk to lessen the medical risk of so many.

Thank you for listening.  I hope you have a great holiday.

Until tomorrow.

Yours truly,

Larry Drain

To testify

Some very nice people with the best of intentions have told me there is absolutely no chance whatsoever that this website, that this campaign will have any effect at all.  They want to know why I continue.

I tell them a story.  In 1995 when Governor Bredesen was dismantling TennCare 24 people, most of them sick or disabled had a sit-in in his office.  They stayed for over 70 days.

One of the leaders of the sit-in was a friend of Linda and mine.  I asked him why.  They knew the chance of changing Bredesens mind was zero.  I remember what he said, “We just want someone else to know.  We matter and what they are doing is wrong.  This is our testimony…”

This is mine.