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Much Ado About Tenncare
I must preface my remarks by stating that I'm an old timer in the healthcare biz. The economics of the field astoud me as much today as they did 27 years ago when I entered the workforce. At that point in time, private health insurance paid nicely for private rooms and a several night stay for "diagnostic" purposes. For example, one was admitted for surgery the night before and kept NPO by hospital staff and given nice meds to take the edge off the anxiety. Oh and by the way while you're there, let's check your cholesterol and do an EKG and a pap smear. Health insurance premiums were fully paid by employers for the employee and the entire family.

Fast forward to 2005. Since Tenncare began as a good idea gone bad, I have witnessed the state of the healthcare industry go from nice to worser than worse, both as a consumer AND a practitioner. The beginning of the end started shortly after Tenncare was implemented and the private contractors got greedy. Remember the pharmacy scandal? Somebody should've stopped the show right then. Instead, the program continued to grow until even a lottery couldn't save the state's economic woes from giving away healthcare to a few deserving souls and a whole bunch of folks who abused it.

Case in point: The ER of the rural hospital that I work in is constantly filled with "sick" folks who come there because there Tenncare is accepted rather than to the doc's office who doesn't accept it. Why do they not accept Tenncare? Because it pays only a fraction of their costs and is slow to pay. Historically, providers wait months or years to recoup their money due for treating enrollees. Lots of mismanagement and disorganization have led to distrust of the system by everyone in the state.

I am EMPLOYED in the healthcare industry, and I have no perks. My co-pays on the drugs that I buy monthly are a big part of my budget. I have been known to skip a dentist or doctor's appointment because I can't afford the co-pay. CO-PAY.....mind you. Tenncare recipients, many of them with very small premiums, have thus far been treated to unlimited prescriptions and doctor/hospital/diagnostic visits while the old gal who draws their blood and runs the tests is struggling to survive.

I'm not real good with money or math, but I think it's time for a
change y'all. Maybe if I can get a decent raise I can afford my first lottery ticket.

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