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Political posturing, Rusty Crowe and more in Tuesday's Forum

Staff Report • Sep 27, 2013 at 3:41 PM

In regard to your article with (Mountain States Health Alliance CEO) Dennis Vonderfecht on the upcoming implementation of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it’s clear political posturing and misinformation are going to cost our state and others who try to block the law a lot of money and jobs.The issue is the Medicaid expansion. With the expansion, Medicaid will be extended to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $40,000 for a family of four. Their coverage is free or a small amount. The states that take the expansion will be reimbursed 100 percent for the first three years, then at 90 percent. If a state does not take the expansion, their federal dollars to fund Medicaid is redirected to the states that do take the expansion. This is the loss of hospital reimbursements that was indicated by Vonderfecht. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess which states are blocking the law based on the political affiliation of their governor and legislatures. (Tennessee and Virginia have not taken the expansion dollars.)While the Affordable Care Act is certainly not perfect (the employer mandate is a job killer and hopefully will be repealed), it’s a start to help more people get health care insurance with their premiums based on income. What is interesting is that, in national surveys taken randomly, 70 percent approve of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and 80 percent disapproved of Obamacare. Go figure.WILLIAM PRENDERGASTElizabethtonCrowe and educationI am grateful to have state Sen. Rusty Crowe in Nashville because he represents justice for the people whether they are Republicans or Democrats. In this case he is standing up for the teachers in our state. There were certain accusations in a letter to the editor that I recently read that concerned me. I investigated to find out the truth and here are the facts I thought the public should know.First of all, Crowe was recently named as a friend of educators by our state’s Tennessee Teachers Association. Quoting from their recent mail-out to teachers, they say, “Sen. Rusty Crowe was a friend to educators in 2013. He questioned the idea of a statewide charter authorizer and sponsored Tennessee Teacher legislation to stop unlimited and unfair suspensions of teachers. He voted for the bill to guarantee health insurance to teachers assaulted on the job; voted for a pay raise and made sure newly retired teachers will get a 25 percent tuition discount for their children at Tennessee state universities. On numerous issues, Rusty was with us.”Regarding the School Resource Officers, I contacted Sen. Crowe and asked him about giving guns to teachers. He sent me a copy of the law that was passed. It did not, as the writer of the letter stated, “arm teachers with guns instead of hiring SROs.” What it did do was to give more options for school districts to have SROs on school grounds.Crowe explained to me that he has always been fully in support of our SRO school safety programs. He has certainly been a friend to our teachers. He is even fighting the state Board of Education’s decision to use TCAP testing as a basis to take away a teacher’s license.MONA BARRONJohnson CityValue life every dayAs I grow older and continue my way on this journey we call life, I’ve noticed something about the world around me that troubles me greatly. This troublesome something is the fact that we do not value life as we should. We see all the obstacles in life such as money, the economy, the house payment and we let work consume us. All of these things can cause our view of life to be dismal. When this happens, our life is taken for granted. Common, everyday abilities can be taken away in a mere second. Is that not a sobering thought? It is for me.We should live each day simply being thankful for having the opportunity to be alive another day. I learned this lesson from reading a book titled, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” written by Mitch Albom. The author visits Morrie, who is slowly dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease, to learn about life. Morrie’s illness has taught him to be thankful for the things we take for granted such as unlabored breathing and walking. He learned to actually appreciate his life and see what a good life consists of. We should all be more like Morrie and begin valuing our life and be thankful for what we have. JAYSON ALLEN Johnson City

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