TennCare cut victims (left to right) Rod DeVaul, degenerative disc; Glen Barnhill,
Kathy Chamberlain, life-threatening seizures; Don DeVaul, paraplegic; photo by
| Tennessee Governor Phil "No Medicine"
Bredesen pushed through draconian legislation to severely curtail
and eliminate “TennCare” benefits for over 325,000 of Tennessee’s sickest and poorest
citizens. Bredesen repeatedly made false and misleading promises regarding a
state "safety net" and future federal aid. Causing severe emotional stress and physical
pain from lack of medication, re-instating and then again cutting thousands, he used them as his
personal political football in a crass malfeasant power-ploy of political and health industry
monetary interests trumping the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. Wheel-chair
bound Glen Barnhill and Don DeVaul participated in an 81-day protest outside Bredesen’s state
capitol office, where he turned a deaf ear to their daily pleas for help.
Tennessee Senator and Senate Majority Leader Bill "Right-To-Life-Twist" Frist, in spite of
his physician’s oath to the contrary--the same Bill Frist who attempted to legally circumvent
both Florida courts and the United States Supreme Court over the "right-to-life" of a Florida
woman who was already brain dead--has repeatedly refused to lift a political finger to reverse
this catastrophic denial of healthcare for his own constituents. His hypocritical excuse
has been that he has no legal authority to interfere with the governor of his own state, even
though interfering with the Florida courts, a state where Frist had no political authority and
attempting to circumvent the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court, somehow seemed perfectly
legitimate to Frist.
Leaders of other states, including New York and Alabama, have asked for and obtained hundreds of
millions of dollars in federal emergency funding to shore up ailing healthcare
systems. But Frist, who states on his website that affordable healthcare for all
Americans is of primary concern, has repeatedly refused to ask for one nickel for
Tennessee. Paid for by local minister Henry Blaze, paralysis TennCare cut victim Don
DeVaul flew to Washington to ask for Frist’s help and was refused entrance to his office.
Bredesen (estimated $400 million) and the Frist Family (over $2 billion, not including
the proposed HCA mega-buyout noted below), became filthy rich on
the healthcare industry backs of Tennessee's sick and poor. It remains
obvious that it would be a gross injustice if either Democrat Phil “NO MEDICINE”
Bredesen or Republican Bill “RIGHT-TO-LIFE-TWIST” Frist were elected dog-catcher; grossly
unfair, that is, to the stray dogs of Davidson County.
[ To comprehend just how filthy rich the
Frist family has become off of the diseased backs of others, see article below on HCA medical
fortune mega-buyout; one might assume that from the $33 billion figure quoted below, a
billion or two could be diverted to help the catestrophically ill of the Frist Family's home
state; assuming, that is, they actually give a Republican rat's ass about the welfare of
Tennessee's catestrophically ill citizens. ]
FRIST FAMILY MEDICAL FORTUNE $21 BILLION
[ later revised to $33 BILLION ] DOLLAR HCA BUYOUT
CNN.com Sunday, July 23, 2006
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) -- Hospital operator HCA Inc. is expected to be acquired by an investor
group for about $21 billion [ later revised to $33 billion by other sources ] in one of the
largest leveraged buyouts in history, sources familiar with the situation said on
Sunday. The buyout group includes HCA management, the chain's founding family, the
Frists, as well as Bain Capital, Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts & Co.,
and Merrill Lynch, said the sources, who declined to be identified by name.
The deal would rank among the largest leveraged buyouts in history, behind the $25.07 billion
buyout of RJR Nabisco in 1988, data from research firm Dealogic show. [ Later news
sources stated that the actual buyout will be $33 billion, including 11.7 billion in
assumed debt, making this the largest leveraged buyout in history. ]
ANGEL OF MERCY FOR OTHERS DIES AFTER LOSS OF HER OWN PRESCRIPTION
10/23/05 --The Tennessean
The day before she died, Dorothy Webb Willis fed evacuees from Hurricane Katrina as leader of
the kitchen ministry at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood in Memphis. Ironically, many of
the evacuees had learned that Tennessee's governor would open up TennCare, the state's Medicaid
program, to help them with health-care coverage and prescriptions.
Willis, however, had been cut from TennCare more than a month earlier. At 72, she
depended on TennCare to get her prescriptions, including Coreg. It is prescribed for
congestive heart failure. Twice she had filed appeals to TennCare to get her coverage and
that of her husband reinstated — and was rejected. But their health would not allow them
to wait until January for Medicare to cover needed meds.
So on her limited income, she made sure her husband, who is battling cancer and diabetes, had
his drugs first. And she stayed true to her faith — feeding the evacuees, despite feeling tired
and being without her Coreg for two weeks.
"Coreg cuts the death rate," from congestive heart failure, said Dr. Theodore Addai, chairman
of the department of cardiology at Meharry Medical College. "If you are off the medicine
for two weeks, it is extremely likely there will be an adverse reaction. It could be
sudden death or progressive heart failure."
And the morning of Sept. 30, 2005, "my mother fell dead while getting ready for work," said
Willis' daughter, Brenda Webb-Dickens of Arlington, Texas. "I still cannot fathom how a
state within the United States of America can purposely neglect its citizens. I'm angry
and saddened, but what can I do?"
She can't do anything now. But we can, as citizens and voters of this state. Too
many people have suffered and even died because of the governor's TennCare cuts. Out of a
simple sense of humanity, a special legislative session on TennCare is needed to address the
growing tragedy. Willis' passing represents the second death that families have stepped
forward to blame on the cuts.
"I'm sure there are plenty of people falling into the same fate and not saying anything,"
Dr. Stacy Davis, director of the comprehensive heart failure program for Midstate Cardiology
Associates in Nashville, said she has had several people hospitalized because they lacked their
heart medicines. And that's unfortunate, she said, because there are free samples
available. But it has become arduous for people with advanced heart disease to navigate
a very different system for prescription help.
It's also not easy for a family of someone hurt by the TennCare cuts to step
forward. Their lives are scrutinized. Why didn't they do this, or why didn't they
insist their loved ones do that? I know the challenge Brenda Webb-Dickens faced in
caring for her mother across hundreds of miles. I've been doing the same with my mother
in Oklahoma. You can't see everything that is going on.
Why didn't she just buy the Coreg for her mother? "I've bought her many things,"
Webb-Dickens said. "She told me she was buying two or three pills at a time. I told
her 'Mom, go down to the doctor to get some samples.' But his office was on the other
side of town. On Thursday night before she died, she told my aunt that she hadn't taken her
Coreg for two weeks. So my aunt offered to take her to the pharmacy and buy her
pills. But she said she was too tired.
"She had been worn down by all the stuff on TennCare. When she received two packets of
forms to fill out to get free drugs from companies, I kept telling her to fill them
out. But she said 'no.' She said she was tired of filling out forms and being
told 'no.' When I was going through her things after her funeral, I found two rejection
letters from TennCare."
She did finally fill out the forms but first for her husband. That required making an
appointment with his doctor. The week she died, Willis finally got around to herself.
"She was a real hero to a lot of people, and that makes her death that much harder to take,"
said Katherine Conner of Antioch, who runs a business helping people who have been cut off
public health care. Willis' daughter discovered Conner on the Internet, researching ways
to help her mom. It was forms from Conner that Willis was filling out.
So how should the state of Tennessee account for the death of Dorothy Webb Willis — an ordained
evangelist, a feeder of the poor and a member of MADD after a drunk driver killed one of her
daughters? Did she die so the state could save money — even though it has a record rainy
day fund of more than $300 million, another $100 million in surplus revenue from last fiscal
year and finally a retro drug review program to cut prescription abuse that advocates long
asked for and now is delivering big savings?
Did she die because the Legislative Black Caucus does not consider the TennCare cuts an
African-American issue? Did she die because Tennesseans who go to church on Sundays
believe they are fooling God by mouthing the right words for an hour, then staying silent on
TennCare the rest of the week?
It would be too easy to blame this death on Gov. Phil Bredesen. He really doesn't know
any better. Everything to him is a number on a balance sheet. And he has been
unwilling to listen to lawmakers who have presented cost-saving alternatives to his
But the rest of us know better, and many us profess a faith that calls us to better. Our
silence has left our state much poorer in the loss of Dorothy Webb Willis. But her legacy
of compassion can still live if only now we speak up and demand our lawmakers endorse a
WHERE'S BILL FRIST WHEN WE NEED HIM?
by Richard Aberdeen
I attended a funeral on September 19th, 2005 for a family who lost their 50-year-old
husband. He died from lack of hemophilia medication and there are three children in this
family with the same problem--one of them is covered by medical insurance and the other two
have been cut from the TennCare roles--they are living on the surviving mother's meager wages
and have an $800 mortgage payment. This is the third person I am aware of who has died as
a direct result of the cuts. Many more have died who I do know of personally and the
number of deaths is expected to grow to many thousands in the coming few months.
A friend of mine who has Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis is an active contributing citizen up,
working full time and doing charitable work on the side; though poor and
surviving paycheck to paycheck, she was cut from the TennCare rolls. A girl in her
twenties who has ALS has had her necessary 12 medications cut back to 5 and has lost her
nurse, another friend who is paralyzed and a wheel-chair basketball champion, has lost his
breathing and pain medication, a woman is losing her seizure medication and without it,
she will die. They, along with many thousands more, are suffering severely and
many of them will die slow and excruciatingly painful deaths without medicine.
More than 325,000 poor and uninsurable Tennesseans had their healthcare arbitrarily cut due to
the draconian efforts of Governor Phil Bredesen, one of the most corrupt and ruthless political
miscreants in American history. To demonstrate just how ruthless and callous these
actions were, the State of Tennessee currently has a surplus of over 300 million dollars and
is very much in the black financially. After many demonstrations and large ongoing
public outcry, some cut victims have been partially re-instated, though their ability for
physician care and to receive quality and sufficient medication has been drastically curtailed.
Several TennCare cut victims say they are planning to commit suicide and many more will become
homeless and extremely ill, requiring millions of dollars in hospital and other care before
dying, thus these ruthless cuts without conscience will greatly increase the burden to the
taxpayers of Tennessee rather than save the state any money and are therefore, beyond all
credibility and logic, as well as being grossly immoral and far removed from all common
decency. This situation is worse than anything I have ever personally witnessed our
own government doing in terms of scope and callous disregard for the lives, suffering and
well-being of its own citizens and many educated people here in Tennessee are labeling
it "medical genocide".
Tennessee is currently represented in the national senate by Lamar Alexander, who appears to
have never heard of the concepts of "compassion", "morality" and "political courage" and
Bill Frist, a medical doctor who seemingly has forgotten or never bothered to read the
Physicians Oath, in addition to apparently not having even a rudimentary grasp of these other
concepts. The modern Physicians Oath specifically states the following: "I will apply,
for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required. . . I will remember that I do
not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect
the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related
problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick. . . I will prevent disease whenever I
can, for prevention is preferable to cure."
Senator Frist's response to this growing medical genocide in his own state has been that it is
not politically proper for him to interfere with the governor. This is the same Bill
Frist who thought nothing of challenging both the Florida and the United States Supreme Court
over the "right to life" of Florida resident Teri Schiavo, who was later found to have
already been brain dead. I find the word "hypocrisy" here far too lenient of a concept
when attempting to explain my feelings regarding these two polar opposite responses. On
the one Voodoo economic Witch Doctor's hand, we have a purportedly overly-sincere physician
decrying the ruthlessness of our government's highest court over one individual,
in a state he had no elected political business being involved with and on the other
self-contradicting hand, while thousands of people most definitely still alive are experiencing
horrible suffering and are expected to die in the state he supposedly represents, Frist has
suddenly become the national poster-boy for political politeness.
Make no mistake about it. Bill Frist, as senate Majority Leader, has the political clout
to bring this needless suffering of his own constituents to the national forefront and have
it debated in Congress and the national media. He can demand that both Congress and the
Supreme Court intervene, while at the same time, demand that affordable healthcare be made
available for all Americans, either by public or private enterprise means or a combination of
both. Even if he had only the minor authority of our politically weak "wag the dog"
Senator Alexander, the very least he could do is to try.
According to a local Nashville minister and TennCare cut victim advocate, Senator Hillary
Clinton asked for and received, one billion dollars in emergency healthcare funding for the
State of New York, Alabama, a state on the opposite side of the political spectrum, received
900 million and other states also have requested and received emergency
funding. Meanwhile, though repeatedly petitioned by many of his own constituents to
intervene and, even though as Senate Majority Leader Frist has more power than these other
state representatives, Senator Frist has repeatedly refused to ask for one
nickel. Tennessee paraplegic Don DeVaul was flown to Washington, D.C. at the expense of
this same Nashville minister to personally petition Senator Frist. Mr. DeVaul, sitting in his
wheelchair, was physically barred from entering Frist's office.
Being an educated medical doctor and a supposed adherent to the Physicians Oath, one would
assume that Senator Frist would be up front leading the charge for the "right to life" of his
own Tennessee constituents. As history clearly has taught over and over again, if a
society does not take care of its sick and poor, mass disease, violent revolution and worse
will rise up and consume that society. All of the weapons in our nuclear arsenal and all
of our military might will not serve to remove a single hair of this historical reality from
our unsuspecting heads. And we the people of Tennessee and the United States of America
are all left wondering, "WHERE'S BILL FRIST WHEN WE NEED HIM?"
AMERICANS WANT UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE
CNN.com Wednesday, June 7, 2006
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government should guarantee that all Americans have basic health
insurance coverage, says a committee set up by Congress to find out what people want when it
comes to health care. "Assuring health care is a shared social responsibility," says the
interim report of the Citizens' Health Care Working Group, a 14-member committee that went to
50 communities and heard from 23,000 people.
The committee describes its recommendations as a framework. The recommendations don't say who
would pay for universal health coverage or how much it would cost. The concept of
government-guaranteed coverage runs counter to the Bush administration's position that
consumers should bear more responsibility for their initial medical expenses.
The group's findings will be officially presented to the president and Congress in the fall,
but first comes 90 days of public comment. The president will submit to Congress his
response, and then five congressional committees will hold hearings.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said he and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, came up with the idea for
establishing a group that would work outside of Washington to find out what Americans
want. He said they were tired of years of gridlock on health care issues.
"We decided, let's try something else. Let's go to the public and give them a chance, not
in terms of writing a bill, but let them provide a kind of general roadmap where the country
ought to head," Wyden said.
Wyden said he will wait to hear the public's comments on the report before reaching any
conclusions about the findings. However, some groups are already wary.
implies massive new funding sources, massive new laws would be needed," said Sarah Berk,
executive director of Health Care America, an advocacy group that pushes free market approaches
to health coverage. "We want universal access, but this report just pushes all the
difficult problems onto somebody else's plate. It says government needs to do it all."
George Grob, the executive director of the Citizens' Health Care Working Group, said the group
was not asked to say specifically how to get to universal coverage. However, the group
did recommend that financing strategies be based on principles of fairness and shared
responsibility. The strategies should draw on revenue streams such as enrollee
contributions, income taxes, so-called "sin taxes" and payroll taxes, the report said.
"We're already paying for health care for everybody who gets it, including people who don't
have health insurance coverage who are taken care of when they go to the hospital," Grob said.
The group's stated values and principals were as important as the recommendations,
Grob said. Those principals said all Americans should have a set of health coverage
benefits guaranteed by law. Those benefits should be "portable and independent of health
status, working status, age (and) income," the report said.
Congress passed the bill creating the Citizens' Health Care Working Group in late
2003. The same bill created a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. Congress
approved $5.5 million to fund the group's work, which began in February of last year. The
group consisted of 14 members representing consumers, the disabled, business and labor, and
health care providers.
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