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TN Set to Repeat History? More than 100,000 May Lose Health Coverage

February 26, 2008

Nashville, TN – Tennessee is set to repeat history. The state soon will add even more Tennesseeans to the nearly one million who don't have health coverage by kicking more than 100,000 people off TennCare health insurance. It was three years ago that nearly 200,000 Tennesseans with serious medical needs suddenly found themselves without health insurance because of TennCare coverage cuts.

This new round of cuts will be just as life-threatening, according to Louise Hardaway with the Tennessee Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorders Foundation. Tennesseans with the blood disease will be among those losing coverage, all because they have a job.

"An adult who has gotten a job and is trying to be a contributing member of society is going to be, basically, punished."

Mona Rogers has two sons with hemophilia. Her youngest is still at home and has health care insurance, but her oldest son only has TennCare insurance. She says he doesn't use his employer's coverage because he knows his company can't afford it, and without the TennCare option, dropping out of the workforce may be his only life-saving option.

"He wants to work for a living, he wants to be a productive citizen, and they'll basically leave him no choice. He'll have to get back on disability."

TennCare insurance provides coverage that employers can't afford to supply, Hardaway explains. Blood disorder health care costs can reach $200,000 a year.

The state wants to cut TennCare coverage for families who earn "too much," which is just over $637 a month. Hardaway says Tennessee needs to set up a new health insurance safety net that would catch people with chronic illnesses, Tennesseans who are blind, and some elders who will lose their health coverage.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - TN