A very personal plea for medicaid expansion: a letter to the governor
Dear Governor Haslam:
I want to start by first thanking you for your decision to restore funding to peer support centers in Tennessee. As a mental health advocate I can tell you it is one of the best decisions you have ever made and I am so thankful you made it.
But my decision to write this letter is about much more than the peer support centers. In your state of the state message you talked a couple of times about the importance of government giving good customer service. You seemed to put a lot of stock in that idea. It was not the first time I have heard you speak about it. The decision to fund peer centers was a great example of good customer service.
My hope is that you will consider my request in the light of that concept. I am in a desperate situation and without your help I dont know where to turn.
I want to ask you to reconsider your stance on medicaid expansion. I know you are in a tough spot. Anything that makes the Tea Party mad faces great obstacles in Tennessee and few things make them angrier than health care reform. Perhaps what I am asking you is impossible for you to politically do. Several people have told me it is.
As I said my situation is desparate. Let me take a minute to describe it.
I have been “free” of health care insurance for many years. It is a freedom I would gladly lose. I have been told that I need surgery. The surgery is a minor one that thousands of people undergo every year. No insurance means no surgery. The doctor tells me the lack of surgery though may not be a minor thing though, that in fact if my condition should become an emergency my life may be in danger. I pray every day not to die a preventable death. Many people have far more dangerous situations than me and face far more immediate risk. Being poor should never, at least not in Tennessee be the cause of anyone’s death. And without action on your part it will be though.
My desperation though is not based purely on issues of my health. It goes far deeper than that.
My wife is disabled and has been on TennCare for a while. She is a TennCare miracle. Without it she would have died long ago. Even with all her progress without it she would no live a month. In order to save her insurance and in a very real sense her life after 32 years of marriage we have had to separate. I dont know, without TennCare expansion we can ever live together again.
The situation is very complex, but let me share it with you as briefly as I can. My wife receives SSI for disabilities. Recently I took retirement from Social Security. It was the worst decision I have ever made.
We found out that in Social Security’s eyes, even though our combined checks left us below poverty, we made far too much money. Linda lost over $700 and her check was reduced to $20 a month. I told Social Security that I would have to get a job in order for us to survive. We figured without her check we had about $40 to live on for the month of January and we just cant live like that. Who could??
Social Security told us that since her TennCare was disability based and not income based (like it would be if TennCare was expanded) that if I made over $85 a month her TennCare would be lost.
I love my wife and wont let her die. The day after Christmas we separated. The hope is that with a separate address she can regain her SSI check. My hope is to move as close to her as possible. Right now I do not see how we can ever live together again.
You do not make the rules for Social Security and none of that is your fault. The law is what it is and despite its cruelty and hurtfulness we have no choice but to do our best to live with it. A law that supports the break up of thousands of marriages seems so evil, but I dont right now see how I can affect it.
I am asking for your help though. Maybe I dont have the right but I have no where else to turn. I know you deeply love and care for your wife. What would you say to me if our situations were reversed??
Please act. Whatever the resolution please act. My wife will keep her TennCare. I will never do anything to put that in jeopardy. Without your help though my marriage will not survive and for Linda and I that is a death of a different sort.