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.