Healthcare access affects lives. It's not about numbers or dollars, but flesh-and-blood people- loved ones, family, friends, neighbors.
I recently spoke to a young woman with a five-year-old son and a baby on the way. She worries about what insurance will cover, and how much she'll have to pay. She told me her own grandmother had no insurance, so she put off going to the doctor until her lingering cough got too bad to ignore. When she finally went, the doctor discovered she had Stage 4 lung cancer. She was told it would have been treatable -- survivable -- had they caught it earlier. She died six weeks later. Her family lost her for lack of access to affordable care.
Hers is not the only story out there, it's one of many. And this young mother and her grandmother and all the other people who are uninsured are the reasons we need to pass Insure TN and expand Medicaid, so we can help people, right here, at home.
I went to public schools, so did my three children, and I graduated from a MTSU- a public university. Education has always been a priority in my family.
My father was a teacher. He was able to teach Auto Body Repair without a college degree because of his years of experience. I saw first-hand the hours he put in outside of the classroom and his dedication to his students. That was over twenty years ago, and my Dad has passed, but occasionally one of his former students will still tell me of the difference he made in their lives. How he kept them from dropping out of high school, inspired them to open their own business, or just gave them the confidence to pursue their own path.
We have to honor the value of good teachers by funding their classrooms and paying them enough to keep them. I firmly believe public education is the best opportunity we can offer a child - no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they live.
My three children are now young adults. Two are in college and working, and one is out in the work world full-time. They struggle to find jobs that pay well enough to help them get a start on the life they look forward to - paying for college without debt or saving for a home of their own.
Unemployment is low, but many of those jobs don't pay middle-class wages. As the cost of living rises, wages stay the same. We have more minimum wage jobs here in Tennessee than any other state. Some folks have two or three jobs, just to make ends meet, and often with no benefits- no health insurance, no paid time off for sick days or vacation, no savings for retirement.
Attracting jobs to our area is important but making sure those jobs offer anyone willing to work hard the dignity of being self-sufficient is more important, and exactly what we need to fix.