Dear Governor Haslam:
This is my 69th letter to you.
You recently received a letter from Kathryn Flaherty in Connecticut. That letter is reprinted below. You replied with a form letter that is almost word for word the same canned response to questions about Tenn Care expansion you always give.
She deserved more.
WE ALL DO.
Dear Governor Haslam
I am writing to you today to ask (nay, beg) you to please give my friend Larry the courtesy of a meeting. He has written you a letter each day about the situation he and his wife face because of mounting medical bills and Tennessee’s decision not to expand Medicaid.
I am sure your staff has brought to your attention the fact that Larry’s and Linda’s story has now attracted the attention of not only local, but national, media.
I would think that even if it were for no other reason than political optics – although I would sincerely hope that this would not be the sole reason you would have such a meeting – I cannot comprehend why you have not yet met with one of your constituents.
I live in Connecticut. Maybe things are just done differently in Tennessee. I can assure you, if someone here had written to one of our elected officials with the persistence and zeal of my friend Larry, that elected official would have made the time to assure that a meeting took place long before now.
I apologize to my friend for having delayed so long in taking the time to write to you.
Thank you for contacting me regarding Larry and Linda Drain. There is not a more important or more complex issue facing Tennesseans today than healthcare, where costs and entitlement programs are on an unsustainable path and already crowding out other budget priorities. The Affordable Care Act will cost Tennesseans almost $2 billion over the next eight years, even without adding any additional people to the rolls.
Last year, I informed the Legislature that Tennessee will not expand TennCare rolls under the Affordable Care Act, but will instead work to leverage the available federal dollars to pursue real health care reform.
I believe Tennessee can be a model for what true health care reform looks like, so we’ve been working toward a different plan: A Tennessee Plan for Health Reform. The “Tennessee Plan” would take on the critical issue of aligning incentives among users, payers and providers of health care. Specifically, the plan would leverage available federal dollars to purchase private health insurance for Tennesseans up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level who don’t have access to health insurance, which would translate to 175,000 more insured Tennesseans. The plan would reform the payment structure for providers so they are compensated for health outcomes, not just services performed.
To succeed, we need cooperation and assurances from the Department of Health and Human Services. So far, we have not been able to get those assurances.
I’ve visited every county in Tennessee, and all along the way I’ve met people who don’t have healthcare coverage and whose families are in incredibly difficult positions. I will continue to pursue a vision for a healthier Tennessee with access to health care, but at a lower cost for our state and our country. It is my hope that we can provide quality health care for more Tennesseans while transforming the relationship among health care users, providers, and payers.
If Tennessee can do that, we all win. I will continue to work on this plan, and appreciate your support as we continue to seek the necessary flexibility from Health and Human Services.