Mentally and physically disabled protest TennCare cuts

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 4:43pm

The mentally and physically disabled, many of them in wheelchairs, came to the Capitol Wednesday to lobby the legislature against Gov. Phil Bredesen’s proposed cuts in TennCare benefits.

“It’s time we speak out about things that will seriously impact people who have no control over their situations,” said Anthony Fox, director of the Tennessee Mental Health Consumers Association.

Bredesen’s recommended cuts include a $10,000 annual cap on inpatient hospital and psychiatric hospital services; elimination of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy coverage; elimination of hospice care; and an annual limit of eight doctor's office and nonemergency hospital visits.

“Folks with mental illness, folks with disabilities, families and children are really bearing the brunt of those cuts,” said Carol Westlake, director of the Tennessee Disability Coalition.

“The TennCare Bureau tells us over and over again that it affects a very small proportion of the people on TennCare. The truth is, the people it does affect are the people who are the sickest, the people who are the most disabled and the people who need TennCare the most.

“TennCare touches the lives of vulnerable Tennesseans over and over again, and we think it’s not appropriate to balance the budget in this state on the backs of its most vulnerable citizens. We understand the economic situation the state is in. We know the entire nation is suffering. But you can’t go after the weakest when you’re trying to balance that budget.”

Westlake said many disabled people cannot afford even a proposed a $2 co-pay on nonemergency transportation to the doctor’s office.

“You earn $674 a month maximum [in Social Security benefits],” she said. “I would challenge anyone in this room to pay their rent, to pay for food, to be able to have clothes occasionally and keep in toothpaste and also pay your co-pay every time you have to go to the doctor or every time you need your blood drawn to make sure that your psychotropic drugs are still appropriate for you. There’s a lot of talk about how everybody ought to pay something and everybody ought to have some skin in the game. There are people without skin.”

The governor has said he has little choice but to cut TennCare to balance the state budget, which is reeling with the economic recession. "TennCare is such a big piece of the budget, you can't get from here to there without substantial cuts in TennCare," he said.

5 Comments on this post:

By: eastnashville37207 on 2/25/10 at 3:03

Governor Bredesen if you where a man you could do something about it but like most government employees you a programmed to eliminate those that are elderly and disabled.

It's call depopulation Bredesen and you are well aware of it and what the government is doing and has been doing for years. The psychotripic drugs sure make the drug companies lots of money and at the same time turns the american people into zombies which is what you people want to you can control every part of their life including brainwashing.

Bredesen has millions for his party bunker, pet projects, parks etc but God knows theirs no money to help those with disabilities. We're not all on psychotropic drugs and we all know that the governments plan is to eliminated the elderly and disabled so who do you think your kidding Bredesen?

Bet Bredesen can find money real quick for abortions because he is into murdering people and it is very clear to many.

By: JKennedyMD on 2/25/10 at 7:23

Those who wish to blast Govenor Bredesen for reigning in TennCare costs must remember that it was Ned McWherter who started TennCare and set the high expectation of providing government-sponsored healthcare at little or no cost. Mr. Bredesen is doing what he has to do because there's other voices (e.g. teachers, law enforcement officers, and the like) demanding money as well.

What good is it to have insurance if there's no money to pay the provider that actually does the work or provides the drugs, equipment, and the like?

I understand that they are angry - and yes, I would likely protest also if my discounted care was being discontinued, provided that I thought that my protest would preserve my discounted benefits.

How will we fund the demands of these folks? Implement an income tax? Increase beer and cigarette taxes? Start an entertainment tax on cable television, movies, sports events? Put toll booths on all the interstates?

By: tammiep777 on 2/25/10 at 9:54

well if we didn't pay tn care for the illegal aliens in this state. i can go to the flea market in lebanon tn and 90% of the people buying and selling there are mexicans and don't get me wrong i have met some nice hard working mexicans but i know for a fact that we support them in tn care. and i also know for a fact that if you go to the health dept. that it's covered in people who can't even speak english. so that tells me right there that they are not american legally. you don't even have to have a social security number to have a drivers license. so that should tell you something right there. give me a break people the only people america is going to hurt is the americans not the people from other countries.

By: TNCitizen on 2/25/10 at 10:19

As long as all these groups only protest cuts to their own funding, 99% of them will be disappointed. They're just squabbling over little pieces of a shrinking pie. If they would get together and demand revenue enhancement measures like loophole closings and an income tax (with sales tax reductions), there would be enough money to maintain the government functions we've all worked so hard to obtain. Wake up and smell the coffee. Protesting cuts is a zero-sum game.

By: teacherella on 3/24/10 at 9:09

Gov. McWherter set up TNCare to try and save a failing medicaid system using the Clinton's proposed managed health care. Now Obama has his answer to our failing health care needs, which coincidently is getting passed weeks after disabled children were cut from TnCare!!!

I would like to ask the Governor how he likes the new Ballroom in the mansion, my son has been cut from TnCare along with thousands of other children, but the state can entertain in style. Yes, I see where the priorities are.