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TennCare Recipients Say State Budget Cuts Create Hardship And Uncertainty

May 16, 2008

Johnson City, TN – Budget cuts proposed by Governor Phil Bredesen threaten to affect a planned expansion of the TennCare program, meaning many people will lose their health coverage, and others won’t qualify at all.

The state's insurance coverage for the most medically-needy was closed three years ago with the promise that it would re-open with new and more realistic qualifying guidelines. But this week, the governor announced an $80-million budget cut that would mean thousands of people would no longer be eligible for the coverage.

Theresa Furchess, a single working mother, has been legally using TennCare for the last several years, as has her own critically-ill mother. She says she is worried the governor's announced budget cuts could leave her family out in the cold.

"It’s kind of up in the air as to what's going to be what and who will be eligible for the new program."

Furchess says she cannot afford her employer’s insurance plan, and because of health problems, private market insurance is out of the question.

The governor says he doesn’t plan to cut participants from the TennCare coverage. Instead, he's limiting coverage to 20,000 people, down from the planned 100,000. Furchess says it's just a twist in language that still means thousands of folks like her, and her mother, are likely to lose health care access.

"Think of the overall impact that the programs that are being removed are going to have on Tennessee."

The Governor says the cuts are necessary to help close a state budget shortfall of nearly $5 billion.

More information on the situation is available from the Tennessee Health Care Campaign at

Barbara Dab/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - TN