Confronted with a Georgetown University report showing that “the uninsured rate for Tennessean women ages 18 to 44 is more than 12%, compared to less than 9% in many states with expanded Medicaid“, local Rep. Micah Van Huss made comments that left many of us with more questions than answers.
Instead of addressing Medicaid expansion—which 65% of Tennesseans favor—Van Huss said he will “continue to vote for the policies that have made Tennessee one of the strongest economies in our nation”.
Wait. What? One of the nation’s strongest economies?
Van Huss is as out of touch with his facts as he is with the people in his district. Tennessee is currently ranked 29th by USA Today and 30th by U.S. News and World Report—in the bottom half of the country and certainly not one of the “strongest economies”.
Political talking points might play well in Nashville, but they don’t do much to help the dozens of people laid off at NN, Inc. last month in Johnson City, nor the 100 more who will lose their jobs later this year when Alo Tennessee, Inc. closes their plant in Telford, or those at Eastman facing layoffs and pay freezes because of a trade war. His comments do nothing to help struggling farmers, hotel and food service workers, or small business owners. And they offer no relief to adjunct teachers who haven’t seen a pay raise in over two decades.
They also don’t do much to fix our broken healthcare system.
Van Huss says that he’s “giving our citizens the opportunity to work for what they have”. But it is his policies—including irresponsibly refusing to expand Medicaid—which directly infringe on their freedom to do that.
You can’t work if you’re sick. And preventing people from having access to healthcare only adds to working families’ financial burden. Rural hospitals are closing down, which affects all of us. If a hospital is closed no one can go, regardless of their health care coverage or ability to pay. Lack of affordable healthcare hurts our workforce, working families, single mothers, and small businesses.
Instead of cheap rhetoric, we need real solutions.
Fixing the failure of this legislature to expand Medicaid is the obvious first step, but it’s not enough. We must take bold action to implement policies that ensure every single Tennesseean has access to high-quality healthcare.
We’ve surpassed 41 days of continual daily protests at Ballad Health over their proposal to do away with the NICU at Holston Valley in Kingsport. People are rightfully concerned that an extra 25 miles—over half an hour in driving time—could mean a matter of life or death for themselves or their loved ones.
We need health care solutions that are patient focused, not profit focused. And we need representatives to fight for what Tennesseans need, rather than lecture us on what we need to work for.
When I look around, I see plenty of people working, struggling, trying to make ends meet. What I don’t see is Van Huss working for us.