As Easter approaches… Can Insure Tennessee rise from the legislative grave?

Senate Health Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, tried to explain why he first said he would vote yes, days later voted no on Insure Tennessee earlier in the session then more recently voted yes:

In an article on Humphrey on the Hill, Crowe said amendments made to the pilot program were key in his decision to change his vote. The amendments include a “lockout provision” for enrollees who fail to pay premiums. An additional provision asks Governor Haslam to wait to put the plan into effect after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on health insurance exchanges is announced.

Some speculation is that Mr. Crowe is merely a puppet of Ron Ramsey, doing his bidding, in initially killing Insure Tennessee. The backwoods boys have repeatedly shown a deep hatred of ObamaCare and vote consistently against the welfare of Tennesseans.

This week, the legislation will go to Senate Finance and on to similar committees in the House. Many see Crowe’s explanation as unbelievable.

Recently a half page article appeared in several area newspapers calling Rusty Crowe and Ron Ramsey out on their failure to move Insure Tennessee forward. Days after the ads are carried in papers, it is reported calls flooded several offices as the ad requested the public to do. Rusty Crowe then votes “yes”, of course, the following ad had nothing to do with his change of heart… SURE

The ad is as follows:

USE OF THIS SPACE IS PAID FOR BY AN INFORMED AND CONCERNED BIPARTISAN GROUP OF CITIZENS FROM CARTER, JOHNSON, SULLIVAN, UNICOI, AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES DISGUSTED BY THE BETRAYAL OF OUR INTERESTS

REPRESENTED BY THE FEB. 4, 2015, VOTE TO KILL GOVERNOR HASLAM’S INSURE TENNESSEE MEDICAID EXPANSION BILL. WE SAY,

NOT IN OUR NAMES.

THE PROBLEM

In crafting the Affordable Care Act, Congress and hospital associations created a provision to deal with uncompensated care. Medicaid expansion to 138% of poverty would cover the low-income uninsured whose basic needs emergency rooms are required to meet. In exchange, hospitals would forgo federal reimbursement for uninsured care. The government would pay 100% Medicaid expansion cost for three years and 90% thereafter. In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the ACA as constitutional, but allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion provision. However, in 2014, hospitals would lose federal reimbursement regardless of their state legislature’s choice. Our legisla-ture has rejected Medicaid expansion, leaving our hospitals and 280,000 low income workers stranded, the lifeline dangling just out of reach. Our hospitals lost hundreds of millions of dollars last year and stand to lose billions. Tennessee’s economy lost as well. Some rural hospitals have already closed, and all are at varying degrees of risk. Partici-pating states will receive our lost billions.

HEROES AND A SOLUTION
In 2013, Governor Bill Haslam, his staff, and hospital professionals began crafting Insure Tennessee, an alternative to Medicaid expansion which would 1) satisfy the federal requirements, 2) cover 280,000 uninsured low-income workers, 3) meet our hospitals’ financial needs, and 4) address issues raised by political conservatives. Polling revealed popular, bipartisan approval at 62%. Insure Tennessee gained official federal approval in 2014. Low-income workers could have personal and less costly routine care. Hospi-tals would be relieved of a debilitating financial burden—three goals met with a professionalism to make us proud.

A REPREHENSIBLE RESULT

Insure Tennessee failed in an ad hoc committee, chaired by Sen. Rusty Crowe, after insultingly brief discussion. A mere seven senators, all chosen by Sen. Ramsey for that purpose, killed it. Public comment and full assembly vote were denied. All Tennesseans, Republican and Democrat, lost.

WE DEMAND A DO-OVER

East Tennessee counties sent Ron Ramsey and Rusty Crowe to Nashville to represent our interests. It’s the widely popular Governor, a fellow Republican, whom these two have chosen to insult and hinder. It is the hospitals in their own districts they have chosen to cripple. Mr. Ramsey manipulated this travesty. He reconfigured the standing Health and Welfare Committee temporarily for his purposes. It is widely understood that he removed not only the bill’s sponsor, but three members who are medical profes-sionals, replacing them with six whose “NO” votes were assured. Mr. Ramsey left Mr. Crowe as chairman and a reliable “NO” vote, despite the fact that Mr. Crowe had as-sured hospital leadership in his district of his support. Mr. Crowe and Mr. Ramsey need to hear from us.

OUR MESSAGE TO SEN. CROWE (PHONE: 615-741-2468)

1. The Governor is owed an apology for the rude and cavalier treatment of his accomplishment.

2. You betrayed your district’s medical community, its premier economic mover, and 280,000 working people.

3. Your loyalty belongs to us, not to Mr. Ramsey and out-of-state big money handlers.

4. Stand on your own two legs, re-open hearings with the original Health and Welfare Committee members, and join the Governor in doing the most economically wise and morally decent thing.

OUR MESSAGE TO SEN. RAMSEY (PHONE: 615-741-4524)

1. You are not Governor. We soundly rejected you, remember?

2. Your reputation as a bully follows you. No amount of language, no matter how carefully crafted, disguises what you’ve done. Actions always speak the loudest.

3. You could consider that you’re being used by those powerful out-of-state conglomerates and super PACs who certainly seem to guide your every move. If you can’t detect the boot on your own neck, the rest of us can. It doesn’t build a legacy.

4. If your justification for accepting support from the out-of-state conglomerates and super PACs is that you and they agree ideologically or in principle, does that include the crippling of our state’s hospitals?

5. Neither Democrats, President Barack Obama, Governor Haslam, the out-of-state conglomerates and super PACs, nor the seven “NO”-voters (whether true believers or simply cowards) are responsible for the failure of Insure Tennessee. You are.

6. When hospitals in rural counties fail, as they will, it will have been by your doing. When our local hospitals have to cut staff and services, it will have been by your doing.

When overworked doctors and support staff make mistakes, you’ll have created the conditions for those mistakes.

7. The legislators we elect deserve the right to show us their own brand of leadership, and sense of what’s right, without fear of retaliation.

NASHVILLE IS A HARD CASE, BUT IT’S NOT HOPELESS. IF YOU AGREE, CALL AND SAY SO.

Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) has been instrumental in bringing Insure Tennessee back from the Ramsey dug grave. Yarbro is a prime sponsor of SJR 93, along with Republican Senators Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) and Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville). Ramsey insists the bill (Insure Tennessee) will not survive. As Easter approaches, could Insure Tennessee rise from the legislative grave?




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