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Health Care Advocates Take Aim At State Legislators

April 18, 2008

Knoxville, TN – Putting the plight of Tennessee's uninsured directly into the laps of state lawmakers is among the goals of a series of town hall meetings, beginning today in Knoxville. Healthcare advocates are organizing the meetings to address what they believe is the state's faulty Medicaid system. Susan McKay with the Tennessee Health Care Campaign says they are committed to working together with legislators to find solutions.

"There is a set of policies that, if they go through this year, may create up to 200,000 more uninsured."

McKay explains the proposed policies could change income requirements for Medicaid, suddenly making thousands of currently covered families ineligible. Others would make it difficult for working families with chronic illnesses or high medical bills to get help.

McKay notes that, while other states are looking at ways to expand coverage, Tennessee seems to be heading in the opposite direction. She hopes these meetings will allow busy lawmakers to hear directly from constituents.

"And then, we're going to ask them what they think and how they can work with us, as our elected representatives, to improve some of these situations."

Currently, one in six people in the state is uninsured, including 100,000 children. Friday's "town hall" healthcare meeting takes place at the Cherokee Health Systems corporate office, 2018 Western Ave., Knoxville, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Others are scheduled in Memphis, Tri-Cities, Jackson, Dyersburg, Chattanooga, Cookeville and Nashville.

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - TN