Yesterday was a truly a low point in our state’s history.
With one vote in a senate committee, seven Republican senators made a decision to shut the door to critical healthcare for over a quarter of a million hard working Tennesseans.
The seven Republicans are: Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga, Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains, Mike Bell of Riceville, Janice Bowling of Tullahoma, Brian Kelseyof Germantown, Rusty Crowe of Johnson City and Kerry Roberts of Springfield.
But those seven Republican senators didn’t act in a vacuum. The end of Insure Tennessee is a direct result in the failure of leadership by Republican leaders Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell. It was their failure to lead, their failure to have the courage to stand up to right wing extremists, and their failure to serve 6.5 million Tennesseans that lead to 7 Republican senators making the terrible decision that will devastate the lives of 250,000 Tennesseans for years to come.
Those seven Republican senators showed that they have absolutely no compassion for the 800 Tennesseans who have already died waiting for healthcare expansion.
Those seven Republican senators showed that they have absolutely no fiscal sense byrejecting the one billion dollars in federal funds that Tennessee would have already received with healthcare expansion.
Those seven Republican senator showed that Governor Haslam was wrong when he told our President that Republicans could be trusted to care for “the least of these”.
Tennessee’s Republican legislators have shown they are unwilling to put people first and that they are incapable of running our state.
Democratic Senator Jeff Yarbro, who stood up for Tennesseans by voting for Insure Tennessee in the committee, pointed out the simple fact that Republicans who deny hardworking Tennesseans the healthcare they need are themselves on government funded healthcare for themselves. House Leader Craig Fitzhugh said, “It does matter who governs.” Congressman Steve Cohen said the vote was “Foolish, foolish, foolish. Sad, sad, sad. Sick, sick, sick,” and Congressman Jim Cooper said, “Tennesseans will die and hospitals will close as a result of a cruel state legislature. Rarely in state history have we seen such a devastating lack of leadership.”
As Democrats, we will keep fighting for all Tennesseans, even when tea party extremists celebrate Insure Tennessee’s defeat.