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