Sit-in to save TennCare

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee health care activists have been sitting in since June 20 at the Statehouse to demand that Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) stop the threatened cut of 325,000 from the TennCare roles. Tenncare is the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

Glenn Barnhill, who uses a wheelchair and needs the assistance of a respirator to breathe, came to the protest with the help of his home health aide. Barnhill said: “They’re going to put us in a situation where I will have to be put in a nursing home. If I go back to that I will have one nurse per 30 to 60 patients. I will be laying in my bed, flat on my back, gasping for breath, waiting for someone to help me. I feel that is inhumane. TennCare has given me a lot of freedom and made my life worth living.”

If the governor does not address this crisis, people will die, said a statement released by the Nashville Peace and Justice Center. Medical professionals, civil rights advocates and people of conscience have joined the patients and others to be cut from the program. “We are people with different cultures, backgrounds, and abilities but all of us come with a common understanding that TennCare is essential for the most vulnerable in Tennessee,” the statement said.

Enrollees say they will stay as long as needed, even under the risk of arrest. They are calling on supporters to contact the governor’s office atphil.bredesen@state.tn.us.