Tennesseee Health Care Campaign (THCC)

Working for guaranteed affordable choices

Bristol and Kingsport Forums on Health Reform

Posted by Beth Uselton on October 19, 2010

Volunteers from three organizations – Tri-cities Citizens for Improved Health Care, Virginia Organizing and Tennessee Health Care Campaign – came together to plan two events this past weekend to address misinformation and confusion surrounding the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The two public forums, which took place in Bristol and Kingsport, each featured a panel discussion on Myths and Misconceptions About the New Health Care Law as well as a keynote speech by health insurance industry whistleblower and hometown hero, Wendell Potter (please see post on Potter in National Reform section).  Panelists included Dr. Robin Feierabend (ETSU School of Medicine and Physicians for National Health Program), Tony Garr (Founding Executive Director of THCC) and Debby Smith (Board Member of Virginia Organizing).  The two events, which were many months in the making, drew over two hundred participants from Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.  (We even had some people make the trip from Alabama!)

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of many volunteers and local citizens, we were able to plan two very successful public education events.  Very special thanks goes to Wendell Potter, who graciously accepted our invitation to work with us on such a project.  Mr. Potter made a special trip back to his hometown to speak out about his experience working in the corporate health insurance industry and his new role as a consumer advocate, challenging the fear tactics and spin that have been created by special interests to confuse and frighten the public in order to block meaningful health care reform.  His presentation was moving, informative and tremendously inspiring to all in attendance, but especially for the planning team which showed great courage and commitment through their work to make this all possible.

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Bristol Forum featuring Wendell Potter

Posted by Beth Uselton on October 19, 2010

Born and raised in Mountain City and Kingsport, Wendell Potter is

a Senior Fellow on Health Care at the Center for Media and Democracy.

After a 20‐year career as a corporate public relations director, a

visit to a Remote Area Medical clinic in Wise, VA changed his life. Seeing

hundreds of his former neighbors waiting overnight for desperately

needed medical care, he decided to leave his comfortable and powerful

position as head of communications for CIGNA, one of the nation’s

largest health insurers, to speak out about strategies health insurance

companies use to drop coverage and deny care in order to boost their

profits. A well‐respected journalist and author of the book “Deadly Spin”

(Nov. 2010), he has become a leading critic of the health insurance

industry, testifying before Congress and speaking out against the spin

created by insurance companies to block health care reform.


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No more rescissions! Insurers can no longer unfairly cancel your policy.

Posted by Beth Uselton on September 24, 2010

Starting today, Tennesseans with health insurance have added security that the coverage and benefits they’ve paid for will be there if they face a catastrophic illness or injury. Starting September 23, 2010 health insurance companies can no longer drop your policy or retroactively cancel it if you get sick. The term for this practice is rescission and it’s now a thing of the past!

Before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law, insurers could use loopholes or inadvertent omissions in people’s paperwork to justify rescinding their policy when they actually tried to use the benefits they paid for. This unfair practice usually happened when a policyholder needed expensive care. Before health reform, your insurance company could find and use very common paperwork mistakes (like forgetting to list on your application a prescription you took 10 years ago) to cancel your insurance and demand that you pay back money for medical bills they covered in the past.

Rescissions blindside patients, often leaving them in the terrible position of being uninsured, uninsurable (due to what would often be labeled a pre-existing medical condition by other insurers) and facing medical debt for bills they thought would be paid by the insurance company that dropped them. Starting today, the new health reform law prohibits insurers of new and renewing plans from rescinding coverage except in cases of intentional fraud. Also, Insurers seeking to rescind coverage must provide at least 30 days advance notice to give patients time to appeal.

Insurance companies spent over $500 million dollars opposing health care reform because they knew it would hold them accountable. The new law does just that by banning them from dropping coverage for people just when they need it most. To find out more about the new health care law, visit our Health Reform Hub at http://www.thcc2.org

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Young Adults Now Have Peace of Mind

Posted by Beth Uselton on September 23, 2010

Here at the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, we are excited to see key provisions of the health care reform bill already going into effect just six months after it was signed into law. One really cool thing that we’re looking forward to is the fact that young adults are now allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until their 26th birthday.  Starting on September 23, 2010 all new and renewing insurance plans must allow parents to add their young adult children back onto their family policy if they choose. You don’t need to be a student.  You don’t have to be a dependent on your parents’ taxes.  You can be married. You can even live in another state!  The only stipulation is that you can’t already have insurance offered through your job.

This is great news for a young man in Jackson, TN. He was recently dropped from his parents’ insurance after reaching the policy’s age limit. This meant that he and his family could no longer afford the medication for his bipolar affective disorder. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, he can get back on the family plan and receive the care he needs.

Young adults represent the largest group of uninsured people in the U.S. (more than 10 million uninsured adults are age 19 – 26!) But they are also the healthiest. Making sure that they are in the risk pool helps to lower premiums for the rest of us. It also provides them and their families with much-needed security and peace of mind. Because they no longer have to worry about losing heir health insurance just because they are graduating or working at a job that doesn’t offer health insurance, many parents and their adult children are going to be able to sleep much easier.

To take advantage of this new benefit in the law, parents should contact their employer or their insurance company.  To learn more about how the new health care law benefits you, your family, and the rest of the Tennessee, visit our Health Reform Hub at www.thcc2.org.

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SICK CHILDREN NOW PROTECTED

Posted by Beth Uselton on September 21, 2010

One of the first major benefits of health reform goes into effect on Thursday. Insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. This news is music to the ears of many loving parents who have struggled to piece together the care their children need. Out of 1.5 million children in Tennessee, over 115,000 have been diagnosed with conditions that could potentially lead to the denial of coverage prior to September 23, 2010. The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act now provides those children with security and their families with piece of mind.

This protection resonates with one courageous mother from Chattanooga. Over a year ago she faced losing coverage for the formula necessary for her 2 year-old. Her daughter was born with Down syndrome and an incomplete esophagus. She has to be fed through a feeding tube. The formula was over $1000 per month. The health insurance premium had gone up, but that part of her coverage had been carved out. The mother and her husband struggled with the insurance company and financially. Thankfully, they were able to piece together the costs so her daughter continued to receive the formula necessary to sustain her. Now such practices by the insurance industry are no longer allowable.

If this new provision can help someone you love, please pass this information along and encourage them to contact their employer or insurance company to get their children the new protections and coverage they deserve.  If you and your children will be helped by this, contact your local paper or radio station to share your story and help them get the word out to other families in your community who may be helped also.

To stay abreast of health reform implementation in the state of Tennessee, visit our Health Reform Hub at www.thcc2.org.

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Consumers Voices Will Be Heard!

Posted by Susan McKay on August 27, 2010

State Government Is In Charge of Implementing the New Health Care Law in Tennessee

It’s our job to make sure consumers have a voice in the process!

We want and need the new law to work for us. This means we need to be a part of the implementation. How?

As the state’s leading nonprofit consumer health advocacy organization, the Tennessee Health Care Campaign is forming work groups.
What’s an IWG?
THCC’s Implementation Work Groups, or IWGs, will be made up of Tennesseans from around the state who are supportive of THCC and the new health care law.  The groups will meet monthly by conference call in order to become better informed about implementation and to help advance our interests as consumers and constituents.

Getting ahead of the curve
Many decisions will be made in 2011 about the Insurance Exchange, insurance regulations, TennCare expansion, and other benefits to comply with the new health care law. Are you ready to fully participate? Studies show that if our state does a poor job with implementation as many as 125,000 Tennesseans will be left out — but this does not have to happen! Studies also show that strong consumer advocacy results in better outcomes.

Implementation Work Group (IWG) Overview:

Behavioral Health: Even though mental health benefits will be regulated by federal guidelines and implemented at the state level in the Exchange, there are many uncertainties about the mental health infrastructure in Tennessee and how these services will be folded into reform. What must we do to ensure that there is parity in 2014?

Health Disparities: There are racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities in health care access and health outcomes across our state. What steps do we take to correct this outrageous situation?

Health Information Technology: We may be technologically advanced and have high-tech medical care, but the way our medical professionals communicate with us and each other to ensure that we get the highest quality of care leaves much to be desired. What must we do to advance health information technology in Tennessee?

Insurance Exchange: Up to 350,000 Tennesseans will be eligible for the new health insurance exchange, which will be an organized marketplace where individuals and small businesses can compare and shop for insurance plans that meet specific regulations for consumer protections and minimum benefits. How do we make sure that the Tennessee Exchange is holding insurance companies accountable? How do we ensure maximum participation? This group will address affordability, benefits, small business market, insurance reform, mental health, and financing.

Prevention: Preventive services will be central to reform. These services will be core to Medicare, TennCare, and the private insurance market. How can consumers advance this core value?

TennCare Expansion: Up to 350,000 Tennesseans will be eligible for the expansion. Legislators are balking at Tennessee’s investment for expansion, but the state’s 5¢ to the fed’s 95¢ is an outstanding deal in providing health care to the most vulnerable of our neighbors. How do we make the case that this is the most efficient and cost-effective way to cover low-income individuals and families in Tennessee? How do we make sure that the state fulfills its end of the bargain?

Waste Reduction & Safety Assurance: The U.S. spends twice as much per person on health care than any other developed country, yet the World Health Organization ranks our health care system 37th. We’re not getting our money’s worth. How can we improve quality and safety, and cut waste? What are the roles of  patients, doctors, hospitals, and insurers?

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What the Health Care Law Means to You

Posted by Susan McKay on August 27, 2010

What the Health Care Law Means to You

6:30-8:30 pm — Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Toyota Auditorium, The Baker Center, Knoxville

Knoxville LOG volunteer and health policy expert Dr. Carole Myers and THCC Organizer Beth Uselton will be panelists for this discussion.

If you are unable to attend, the event will be webcast @ http://tinyurl.com/292scne.

For more details, contact Beth Uselton.

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Knoxville Speakers’ Training

Posted by Beth Uselton on August 3, 2010

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Bristol Speakers’ Training

Posted by Beth Uselton on August 3, 2010

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Court Rules In Favor of VA AG

Posted by Susan McKay on August 3, 2010

Commonwealth of Virginia wins a round in its challenge against the constitutionally of individual mandates. Yesterday a judge rejected the US Dept. of Justices motion to dismiss the suit. This is far from over.  What’s next? A hearing to debate the merits of the suit is scheduled for October 18, 2010.

White House statement

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