NASHVILLE -- Advocates today issued a call for "regular people" from across the state to flood Legislative Plaza in Nashville as Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee plan comes up for a make or break vote on Tuesday in a state Senate panel.
"The reason we're calling this news conference is the fight to bring a billion dollars in federal funds to our state and cover 280,000 Tennessee comes to to a head tomorrow," said Michele Johnson, executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center. "We want every Tennessean to be here. We want them to come here as the Commerce Committee determines whether or not to kill Insure Tennessee."
A bipartisan group of senators are trying to resurrect Haslam's Insure Tennessee which would use federal dollars available Affordable Care Act to extend Medicaid coverage to insured people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
The resolution failed in a 7-4 Senate committee vote on Feb. 4 during a special session. It would give Haslam, a Republican, the go ahead to seek a federal waiver to implement a two-year pilot project.
Among those speaking at today's news conference was Traci Foster, a mother of two who said she has been diagnosed with bladder cancer and later lost her ability to work and now has no health insurance.
"They told me if I had it in my breast or cervix I could get TennCare, but my cancer is in my bladder," said Foster, a former nursing home and home health worker from Anderson County. "I also have heart disease and severe pro-lapse to where my bladder is actually coming out."
Foster said she is "only one of the nearly 300,000 people who are stuck. I need health insurance but have no options."