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News from the rally to call Governor Haslam to talk to the people



Mother pleads for Medicaid expansion on behalf of dead daughter
Tom Wilemon, [email protected]
4:45 p.m. CST November 10, 2014

Michele Fardan sat with her eyes closed in silent prayer clutching a piece of folded paper.

On the front of the paper was a picture of her daughter, Monika Laird. Printed inside was as much about her life that could be told in a memorial handout from a funeral. When the prayer ended, Fardan walked up to a microphone in front of the Tennessee Capitol on Monday and told how her daughter delayed getting medical care because she didn’t have insurance and died.

“I just want to speak for Monika because she is not here,” Fardan said.

She spoke at a rally for Medicaid expansion attended by about 60 people, several of them holding up big signs, some with clever rhymes such as “Close the Haslam Chasm.” There also was a book with 47,250 signatures asking Gov. Bill Haslam to take action on the health care coverage gap. She and three other Tennesseans presented the petition to a member of Haslam’s administration immediately after the rally.

Fardan kept clutching her piece of paper as tightly as a mother holds the hand of her first-born child.

“Monika didn’t deserve that,” she said. “She was a good girl. She was a decent citizen. Never in trouble or anything. She had plans, hopes.”

Laird was 37 years old when she died July 3. She was an aspiring screenwriter who wanted to make movies, her mother said. She was a woman without insurance who didn’t go to a doctor over a broken toe or want to go to a hospital when her legs hurt. After she became weak and lethargic, her mother made her go to a hospital. That same day Laird died from a pulmonary embolism.

“Thank you for your time,” Fardan said just before turning the microphone over to someone else.

“Thank you for your courage,” someone shouted back.

Fardan squeezed back tears after her speech, then yelled out in in anger before entering the Capitol.

“Close the gap!” she chanted alongside Larry Drain and Linda Drain — a husband and wife who must live apart so the wife can get TennCare — and David Adcox, a man with bones in his lower back that are disintegrating.

They were the ones who presented the petition to Don Johnson, with the governor’s Office of Constituent Services. Larry Drain, who has written 127 letters to Haslam about Medicaid expansion, said he asked for a meeting with the governor. He said Johnson was courteous but did not provide a response to that request.

Alexia Poe, director of communications for the governor, said Haslam is still working on a way to fill coverage gaps in Tennessee.

“He talked to Secretary (Sylvia Mathews) Burwell recently and talked to the president briefly about it Tuesday night,” Poe said. “Our challenge remains the same: getting to something that Washington will approve that meets the governor’s objectives for better health outcomes and the ability to address cost that he can also get approved by the General Assembly.”

Fardan said she appreciated Johnson taking the time to hear her share her daughter’s story.

Reach Tom Wilemon at 615-726-5961 and on Twitter @TomWilemon.


Let's join Larry and Linda




Print and Post the flyer for Larry and Linda Drain's rally



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Larry and Linda Drain taking 46,000 signatures to the Governor





Governor Haslam says he is not as "optimistic" about a Tennessee Plan as he was 6 weeks ago.  I take this to mean the federal government is unlikely to accept any proposed elements of the Tennessee Plan that violate or contradict federal law or regulation.  He is not going to be able to write the rules.  He is going to have to follow them.  If the condition of him fighting for Tenn Care expansion is for it to be an easy fight he is not going to make the fight.

The election has been in the strangest of circumstances the "dead period" (What kind of political system makes it off limits to talk about the most important issue to face for fear someone would have to take a stand on it?)  It is now time to define the conversation that will govern the decision on Tenn Care expansion.

The people who would have us vote no on Tenn Care expansion will try to make us believe that a no vote is the only way to save us from a federal menace that will lead us to chaos.  In face of all the facts to the contrary that is momentous argument to make but that has never stopped a politician yet.

The voice missing is ours.  It is time for Tennessee to be for Tennesseans regardless of their socioeconomic status and for politicians to talk to the people they work for.  Share your story and your concerns today.  Call your legislator and speak to him today.  You will only be heard if you speak.

You are invited to legislative plaza in Nashville on November 10.  Linda and I will be having a "Speak to the people" rally.  46000 people have spoke.  They have signed a petition urging Governor Haslam to expand Tenn Care and we will deliver that petition.  Other people in the coverage gap will be speaking.  We hope to see you there about 11am. Please share this post and spread the word.

Thanks a lot.

Larry and Linda