An Ounce of Prevention

There’s an old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That’s a lesson our Republican state government can’t seem to learn, especially when it comes to health care. It’s way cheaper and easier to help Tennesseans stay healthy than it is to help them once they’re sick, with huge medical bills and lost wages. One of the smartest things we could do is make sure every Tennessean can get regular checkups and see the doctor when they need to. As a member of the TN House, I’ll work with nonprofits like the Tennessee Justice Center to close the healthcare gaps in our state. Expanding Medicaid is an obvious first step.

Expanding Medicaid in Tennessee is one of those issues where the moral and economic arguments perfectly align. By giving hundreds of thousands more Tennesseans health insurance, we’d allow them to get medical screenings and treatment when they need it, so their small health issues don’t turn into big ones. That’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the sensible thing to do. When we let people get sicker and sicker and sicker, when we let them go bankrupt from medical bills, when we force them to use the emergency room as their doctor’s office, we all end up paying.

Our previous Republican governor, Bill Haslam, understood that. He tried and failed to expand Medicaid. Unfortunately, our current governor, Bill Lee, has doubled down on the Tennessee GOP’s bad business
instincts. Instead of accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid—a deal with no economic downside, as
our neighbors Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Kentucky figured out—he’d rather leave that money on
the table and leave hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans uninsured.

So here we are, the number-one state for medical bankruptcies. A state ranked near the bottom for all kinds of public health metrics. Tennesseans are among the most likely Americans to avoid medical care because of the cost. We rank 45th out of 50 states for access to dental and mental health care. We’re among the worst states for smoking, teen pregnancies, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other preventable behaviors and conditions.

Meanwhile, our rural hospitals are struggling and shutting down.

I will continue pushing hard for Medicaid expansion, and I’ll explore policy-based ways to eliminate the
barriers that prevent Tennesseans from getting the care they need. That includes shoring up our rural
hospitals and exploring innovative solutions to shrink our healthcare deserts.