My daughter, Monika Laird, was only 37 years old when she died of a pulmonary embolism caused by a broken toe. A blood clot in her leg broke free, traveled to her lungs, and killed her. If Monika had health insurance and had been able to afford a doctor’s visit, she might still be alive today.
Monika used to have insurance -- she worked in banking for many years, which helped keep her many health issues like allergies and asthma under control. But she had bigger goals and dreams. She wanted to write and produce independent films. Going with her to file for her business license was one of the proudest moments of my life. She was even in the process of raising funds for her first film when disaster struck.
You see, when she left the financial industry to follow her dream, she could no longer afford insurance coverage. Tennessee used to have a program to help self-employed individuals obtain insurance through the state -- it was called CoverTN, and was sponsored by TennCare, my state’s version of Medicaid. In 2013, lawmakers shut down the program rather than bring the plan up to Affordable Care Act standards. My daughter died because my state would rather play partisan politics than accept Federal funds to expand TennCare.
I’m speaking out because I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what has happened to my family. No one should have to choose between starting a business and dying because they can’t afford to see the doctor. Please sign and share my petition demanding that the Tennessee Legislature vote to expand TennCare and bring back the CoverTN program!
Dear Tennessee State Legislators,
Across the state, self-employed workers are unable to afford the insurance coverage they need to stay healthy. Some, like Monika Laird, have died from treatable illnesses because they couldn’t afford to go to the doctor until it was too late.
Monika and others like her used to be able to apply for coverage under TennCare’s CoverTN program -- but in 2013, the state shut down the program rather than bring in into compliance with ACA guidelines. At issue was the requirement that the $25,000 annual benefit cap be lifted. If cost was the obstacle to keeping this program up and running, then surely accepting Federal dollars to expand TennCare coverage would help cover the cost of continuing this important program.
America is supposed to be a country that values innovation and entrepreneurship. If ordinary people can’t afford to go into business for themselves, how are we supposed to grow and develop as a nation? Denying access to healthcare for the self-employed is bad for business and it’s bad for the state of Tennessee.
Please stop prioritizing partisan politics over the health of your constituents. Stop blocking the TennCare expansion and bring back the CoverTN program immediately!