l ** YES! Another Letter to Congress!Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.Nashville, TennesseeCell: (615) firstname.lastname@example.orgRE: White House Healthcare ForumFebruary 12, 2009Dear President Obama & Members of Congress:There are widespread reports that Phil Bredesen of Tennessee is being considered for a position with theDepartment of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC.As someone who has lived and voted in the state of Tennessee since 1996, I have witnessed several shiftsin policy, both on the local and federal levels. I am a recipient of TennCare, Social Security, and I amember of the Daniels Class. Governor Phil Bredesen has no place in Washington. Please remove hisname from consideration for a cabinet position with HHS.Order Setting Aside DanielsGovernor Bredesen is currently "holding off in spending" until he learns what federal aid will becomeavailable to the residents of Tennessee. I am urging you to take immediate action. PLEASE sign theeconomic recovery package before it is too late.Even under of the best of economic circumstances, the state has often been reluctant to release statemonies until they are in physical receipt of all federal matching dollars. This delays program implementation
and compromises the integrity of the research design. Consistency is a critical component of effectiveprogram development and design.Governor Bredesen had decided to hold back state funds until the final details of the stimulus packageworked out, were finalized. Anyone who has followed the healthcare crisis in Tennessee will tell you,Bredesen is not the champion of healthcare we once hoped he would be.If we hold off on making decisions about the state budgets until the details of this enormous,comprehensive package are finalized, our current programs will suffer as a result.We cannot wait for a determination regarding federal funding before we to determine our state budget whilebefore we of the programs we already are suffering financially.Let me assure you that when it comes to withholding critical items like food, housing, social services, itadds up exponentially. Withholding medical care simply because of procedure and bureaucratic red tape, isshameful and cruel. The money is there, but it seems there should be a certain level of oversight andaccountability if we expect it to be used effectively without delay and without excessive administrative delayand costs.How do I know this? Because I used to work for the state during the time when they not only made the asthey were transitioning to during the transition from I used to work for TennCare,We need to have some level of accountability to ensure the timely and proper disbursement of funds. Inmy experience, there is little recourse for person’s individuals who are caught up in the complicatedpayment arrangements, complicated language, and the systematic, procedural delay when it comes to theprocessing and payment of claims.Let me personally assure you, that there is a very real human cost here as well... and unless there isimmediate intervention, much more than just money will be lost.Please sign the bill before any more jobs, homes, and future are ruined by because help did not fastenough. Please release the funds, because we are running out of time.I am 36, and my spinal cord is damaged from years of delayed, sub-standard medical treatment as Iattempted to navigate a system that simply does not work. I owe the federal government $179,982.00 instudent loans. When I am able to work, I make $10.46/hour as a substitute teacher in MNPS. That jobcomes with no security and no benefits.I have an advanced master’s degree from an Ivy League Institution. I am nine credits shy of a PhD.D. inpublic policy. Despite having maintained a 3.83 grade point average while earning my masters, and justover 3.2 during the three years I was enrolled full time in a doctoral program.Despite having comparable coverage, the insurance company refused to give me COBRA and would notcover my pre-existing condition even through both Columbia and Vanderbilt Universities used the sameunderwriter for student medical insurance: Chickering US HealthScare.I had no break in coverage, and even purchased a private HMO (Oxford) plan that cost several hundreddollars each month just so I could prevent becoming uninsurable before my 23rd birthday.Wrong. Not only did I continue to pay for all three policies, I also had to pay for treatment and STILL woundup on TennCare and Medicaid.Despite doing all the "right" things, I was still unable to transfer benefits from one graduate school to thenext.
When I was twenty-two years old I developed a medical condition, and it quickly became obvious to me thatit would be a lifelong struggle to cope and adapt to having physical disability. I purchased threeindependent policies, however due to a terminal liability in am ERISA plan, with $1 million dollar majormedical policy. As someone who also needed to turn to federal funds and intervention in a crisis, I knowthat if or when help does arrive, it usually too late.I understand the how; I just dont understand why.Maybe one of these days Vanderbilt University and the Department of Education will realize it might just becheaper to hire me that harass me. I need a real paying job now, but with the skyrocketing unemploymentrate, it looks as though I will have a lot of competition.Throughout the three year process of filing medical appeal after the next, I acquired over 1/4 million dollarsin debt in unreimbursed medical care and student loans. I was fortunate enough be able t keep myTennCare that time—only because the state mandated a 30 hour work week, because at 32 hours, yourbenefits kick in.Even while in the states employ, I witnessed a pattern of behavior that was reckless and harmful to thecitizens of Tennessee. In fact, there were so many changes during short time I was there the time I wasthere that even my colleagues in the office of consumer affairs did not know about them until we were aformal complaint had been filed by a consumer in crisis.There was so much chaos in the system because consumers and were not given sufficient information andthe state was completely unprepared to respond to the large number of people who their benefitsterminated, limited, or transferred. It took several months to update the medical database used to verifyinsurance coverage, and many more to get that information in sync with pharmacies and providers.Recipients were left in the dark, probably because it was easier that way.Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Developmental DisabilitiesAlthough I doubt many people people outside of Tennessee are aware of the harsh policies enacted duringthe Bredesen administration. His endless assault on the state’s Medicaid & Medicare programs resulted in271,000 people to be dropped off the roles. People who are uninsurable or cannot afford health insurance.He has requested multiple federal waiver to limit federal law rights under the Medicaid Act, and SocialSecurity beneficiaries. Is not the kind of man we want to lead HHS into a new era of reform. He hasdemonstrated a wanton disregard for the welfare of his own constituents should not be rewarded with acabinet position in the new administration. He has failed this state, and now it costing money. Where it willcome from, I dont know. Perhaps he will turn to the feds.SSA FormNow, again, I face losing my healthcare coverage once again. Please do something, and do it quick. Iwould not wish this experience on my worst enemy,Unemployment rates in the state of Tennessee are at an all-time high, yet welfare roles have remainedstable. This tells us that despite the financial crisis and sad state of the Tennessee economy, people arenot able to access emergency aid that we would expect people to receive in times of economic hardship.Where is the safety net? Where is the American Dream that I so diligently chased after for so many years?What was the point of investing so much in a future that I can never enjoy? How can anyone justifyspending so money much on an education that will never be used?
What will happen when the state begins the 140,000 members of the Daniels Class? DHS has not beenable to process the applications already on file. As the unemployment rate continues to go up, we need tobe sure that applications for emergency assistance are processed within a reasonable period.I have no idea how they intend to handle the growing number of unemployed, uninsured, people in need ofemergency assistance given that they are already overwhelmed by the number of applications already onfile. Is it a really a good time to start the recertification of the 140,000 members of the Daniels Class.?Let us hope the state is not granted another federal waiver or we are all in trouble.Sincerely yours,Elyssa DurantNashville, TN