Dear President Obama:
There are widespread reports that Phil Bredesen of Tennessee is being considered for a position with the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC.
As someone who has lived and voted in the state of Tennessee since 1996, I have witnessed several shifts in policy, both on the local and federal levels. I am a recipient of TennCare, Social Security, and I a member of the Daniels Class. Governor Phil Bredesen has no place in Washington. Please remove his name from consideration for a cabinet position with HHS.
Governor Bredesen is currently "holding off in spending" until he learns what federal aid will become available to the residents of Tennessee. I am urging you to take immediate action. PLEASE sign the economic recovery package before it is too late.
Even under of the best of economic circumstances, the state has often been reluctant to release state monies until they are in physical receipt of all federal matching dollars. This delays program implementation and compromises the integrity of the research design. Consistency is a critical component of effective program development and design.
Governor Bredesen had decided to hold back state funds until the final details of the stimulus package worked out, were finalized. Anyone who has followed the healthcare crisis in Tennessee will tell you, Bredesen is not the champion of healthcare we once hoped he would be.
If we hold off on making decisions about the state budgets until the details of this enormous, comprehensive package are finalized, our current programs will suffer as a result.
We cannot wait for a determination regarding federal funding before we to determine our state budget while before we of the programs we already are suffering financially.
Let me assure you that when it comes to withholding critical items like food, housing, social services, it adds up exponentially. Withholding medical care simply because of procedure and bureaucratic red tape, is shameful and cruel. The money is there, but it seems there should be a certain level of oversight and accountability if we expect it to be used effectively without delay and without excessive administrative delay and costs.
How do I know this? Because I used to work for the state during the time when they not only made the as they were transitioning to during the transition from I used to work for TennCare,
We need to have some level of accountability to ensure the timely and proper disbursement of funds. In my experience, there is little recourse for person's individuals who are caught up in the complicated payment arrangements, complicated language, and the systematic, procedural delay when it comes to the processing and payment of claims.
Let me personally assure you, that there is a very real human cost here as well... and unless there is immediate intervention, much more than just money will be lost. Please sign the bill before any more jobs, homes, and future are ruined by because help did not fast enough. Please release the funds, because we are running out of time.
I am 36, and my spinal cord is damaged from years of delayed, sub-standard medical treatment as I attempted to navigate a system that simply does not work. I owe the federal government $179,982.00 in student loans. When I am able to work, I make $10.46/hour as a substitute teacher in MNPS. That job comes with no security and no benefits.
I have an advanced master's degree from an Ivy League Institution. I am nine credits shy of a Ph.D. in public policy. Despite having maintained a 3.83 grade point average while earning my masters, and just over 3.2 during the three years I was enrolled full time in a doctoral program.
Despite having comparable coverage, the insurance company refused to give me COBRA and would not cover my pre-existing condition even through both Columbia and Vanderbilt Universities used the same underwriter for student medical insurance: Chickering US HealthScare.
I had no break in coverage, and even purchased a private HMO (Oxford) plan that cost several hundred dollars each month just so I could prevent becoming uninsurable before my 25th birthday.
Wrong. Not only did I continue to pay for all three policies, I also had to pay for treatment and STILL wound up on TennCare and Medicaid.
Despite doing all the "right" things, I was still unable to transfer benefits from one graduate school to the next.
When I was twenty-two years old I developed a medical condition, and it quickly became obvious to me that it would be a lifelong struggle to cope and adapt to having physical disability. I purchased three independent policies, and was still covered under a terminal liability clause under a major medical ERISA (federal) plan. As someone who also needed to turn to federal funds and intervention in a crisis, I know that if or when help does arrive, it usually too late.
Where is the safety net? Where is the American Dream that I so diligently chased after for so many years? What was the point of investing so much in a future that I can never enjoy? How can anyone justify spending so money much on an education that will never be used? I understand the how; I just don't understand why.
Maybe one of these days Vanderbilt University and the Department of Education will realize it might just be cheaper to hire me that harass me. I need a real paying job now, but with the skyrocketing unemployment rate, it looks as though I will have a lot of competition.
Throughout the three year process of filing medical appeal after the next, I acquired over 1/4 million dollars in debt in unreimbursed medical care and student loans. I was fortunate enough be able t keep my TennCare that time—only because the state mandated a 30 hour work week, because at 32 hours, your benefits kick in.
Even while in the states employ, I witnessed a pattern of behavior that was reckless and harmful to the citizens of Tennessee. In fact, there were so many changes during short time I was there the time I was there that even my colleagues in the office of consumer affairs did not know about them until we were a formal complaint had been filed by a consumer in crisis.
There was so much chaos in the system because consumers and were not given sufficient information and the state was completely unprepared to respond to the large number of people who their benefits terminated, limited, or transferred. It took several months to update the medical database used to verify insurance coverage, and many more to get that information in sync with pharmacies and providers. Recipients were left in the dark, probably because it was easier that way.
Although I doubt many people, I Tennessee would the harsh policies enacted during the Bredesen administration, his endless assault on the state's poor and infirm is not the kind of man we want in DC. He has demonstrated a wanton disregard for the welfare of his own constituents should not be rewarded with a cabinet position in the new administration.
Now, again, I face losing my healthcare coverage once again. Please do something, and do it quick. I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy,
Unemployment rates in the state of Tennessee are at an all-time high, yet welfare roles have remained stable. This tells us that despite the financial crisis and sad state of the Tennessee economy, people are not able to access emergency aid that we would expect people to receive in times of economic hardship.
What will happen when the state begins the 150,000 members of the Daniels Class? DHS has not been able to process the applications already on file. As the unemployment rate continues to go up, we need to be sure that applications for emergency assistance are processed within a reasonable period.
I have no idea how they intend t handle the growing number of unemployed, uninsured, people in need of emergency assistance given that they are already overwhelmed by the number of applications already on file. Is it a really a good time to start the recertification of the 150,000 members of the Daniels Class.?
Let us hope not, or we are all in trouble.
Elyssa D. Durant
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