People absent from the round table
The Three-Star Healthcare Task Force met the public at the University of Memphis on Monday for a “round-table” that allowed few people to speak. The Task Force was created by Speaker Beth Harwell to address the Legislature overlooking the issue of Medicaid Expansion in the state of Tennessee. Rep. Karen Camper on the Committee said that they are hearing from people before they meet with the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in June.
The public did not have a chance to speak until the very end of the two hour discussion. The final statement came from Diane Cameron who has a daughter in the gap and questioned why the approved Insure Tennessee is not the guide the Task Force is using. The irony of the “round table” is that the Committee Chair asked questions of some individual who had no real understanding of healthcare the community need; and is likely the only individual in the US who did not know Emergency Rooms had an obligation to stabilize people. Yet, much of the task force time was devoted to this individual who represented the National Federation of Independent Businesses and he was unsure of how his organization stood on the Medicaid Expansion issue.
There was little guidance to the discussion. The Memphis Chamber of Commerce was clear that the Tennessee Legislature’s failure to act had cost billions of investment dollars and thousands of jobs. He said that healthcare is the number one concern for business that are considering to come to Memphis and our community strangely is young with chronic health issues.
The committee chair at one point quipped that “an advantage of waiting is that the data and what CMS will approve is better now.” The advantage he sees is that the state of Tennessee has lost about $4 billion but has the experience of other states to plan what Tennessee will do. The sad fact is that Tennessee could have expanded Medicaid brought the money into the state, improved jobs and saved Tennesseans lives, and still over the years contemplated changes to the program.
Marion Bacon spoke near the end and praised Deborah Cunningham and Sandi Klink of the Memphis Center for Independent Living for having faith in her to work and advocate. Marion said she just graduated from Southwest Community College and is an example of success if we invest in our community with healthcare.