By Tony Garr

We are facing tough times. We’ve faced them before and pulled our neighbors and ourselves through by making people a priority. This is what the state needs to do now.

More than a quarter million Tennesseans have lost their jobs and their health insurance since the recession began. It is estimated that more than a million Tennesseans are uninsured and have few options for changing that in the near future. Yet, the state seems determined to continue to whittle away at public health programs that combine to serve as the medical safety net. It’s time to get our priorities straight.

Times are tough in each state, yet Tennessee is the only state to cease enrollment in the Children Health Insurance Program, which we call CoverKids and is viewed as a good program by policymakers from both the Right and Left. Forty-nine other governors understand that this is not time to be blocking health care coverage for children of low- to moderate-income working families. Tens of thousands of Tennessee children are eligible for CoverKids and Tennessee gets three federal dollars for each state dollar it invests in the program, so closing it to enrollment is simply penny-wise, pound foolish.

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