Yesterday, our State Democratic Chairman, Roy Herron, issued a statement responding to Governor Bill Haslam’s rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid to cover many of Tennessee’s working poor.
Chairman Herron wrote: "Deuteronomy 30 urges us to 'choose life,' but self-proclaimed 'pro-life' Republicans applauded the governor denying health insurance to 300,000 Tennesseans in working families, even though that means each week another parent, another child, another loved one—or two—will die. Reactionary and radical Republicans should never again call themselves 'pro-life,' not while condemning working Tennesseans without health insurance to die."
We are in full support of Chairman Herron’s statement and shocked by the callous, politically self-serving nature of the governor’s decision. His caving in to the calls of extremist right-wing legislators is now, sadly, becoming a hallmark of his administration.
Today, we received an email from Dr. Mary Headrick, our candidate in the 2012 Congressional race, urging Hamilton County Democrats to call the governor’s office and protest this bad decision. Dr. Headrick, who has practiced in the emergency rooms and clinics of East Tennessee for 30 years, was the first medical director for Knoxville’s InterFaith Health Clinic, serving the uninsured working poor. She also practiced at the Community Health Clinic in Oak Ridge that sought to divert non-emergency patients from emergency rooms to less costly facilities. She has been in the trenches. This situation is reality to her, not a political football to be used to score points.
“Governor Haslam chose a path that is more expensive per enrollee for the federal government,” writes Dr. Headrick. “In order to strip skin off the backs of low-income workers making less than $15,415 per year (2012 dollars), Governor Haslam refused to accept $730.7 million from the [federal government]; $730.7 million to supply TennCare to 144,500 low-income Tennesseans in 2014.
“Expect three years of accelerated costs while those newly insured ‘catch up’ in obtaining health care. Mr. Haslam refused $730.7 million for one of those three expensive years. Low-income families, local governments, hospitals and clinics will be hurt.
“Meanwhile, Mr. Haslam leaves a ‘donut hole.’ Childless adults ages 19-64 who earn under 100 percent of poverty get no help. Mr. Haslam’s ‘Tennessee Plan’ is hurtful and expensive.”
Sadly, Dr. Headrick is not currently representing us in Washington, where she would have been a courageous and informed fighter for all 3rd District constituents. But we urge anyone, Democrat, Republican or independent, who cares about the health and welfare of our entire community, to follow her lead, and that of Chairman Roy Herron, and call the governor’s office to demand that this decision be reconsidered.
Paul Smith, Chairman
Hamilton County Democratic Party