State Sen. Janice Bowling is making an effort to travel around her district and hold listening sessions with her constituents.
She got an earful Thursday afternoon in McMinnville when the topic of the Affordable Care Act was mentioned by two residents firmly in support of it.
“It’s a foot in the door for national healthcare,” said Warren County resident Bill Haslacker, a Vietnam veteran. “It needs both parties working for the American people to improve it, not throw it out.”
Lee Campbell, a retired public school educator, told Bowling that Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Tennessee Hospital Association are among the groups in favor of the Affordable Care Act.
“There are 200,000 people in this state who can’t get insurance and that’s a very large number,” said Campbell. “I just want the senator to know there are people out here who have a differing opinion.”
Bowling listened to their concerns then stated her reasons why she doesn’t believe Tennessee should opt in to the Affordable Care Act.
“Many of the people who voted for me were adamant the government should not take over healthcare,” said Bowling. “Now that Obamacare has passed, there are options where we can opt in or opt out.”
Bowling compared Obamacare to TennCare and said Gov. Phil Bredesen saw a need to reduce the TennCare rolls when he was in office. She said because Bredesen made some needed cuts, TennCare remains a viable program today.
“Bredesen saw it would bankrupt the state so he did what had to be done,” said Bowling. “Now TennCare is something that’s sustainable and goes to those least able to take care of themselves.
“What’s going on in Tennessee right now with Obamacare is our options were to say yes or to say no. The governor tried to offer his own plan, which was not accepted. So given the options of yes or no, our option was no because we’ve already been there before with TennCare and it was a train wreck.”
In other topics, County Executive John Pelham said he would be asking for Bowling’s input in the future as he looks to expand the adventure tourism industry in Warren County, particularly the kayaking aspect of it. He said one of the main things this might entail down the road is locating more public access points to the rivers in Warren County.
Thomas B. Vaughn expressed concern about the availability of state employees when it comes to answering unemployment questions. He said a family member had recently filed for unemployment benefits and been approved for those benefits to begin in June. However, Vaughn said the first check has never arrived.
When trying to contact the state to find out the status of this claim, Vaughn said it’s been very difficult to reach a live person to talk to, much less a person who can be of any assistance.
Bowling acknowledged there are glitches in the system and described the problems associated with unemployment benefits as “rampant.” She said the state is working to improve the system.