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Painful Proposal

TennCare patients protest proposed cuts.

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The three ambulances that pulled into the Hope and Healing Center on Union Avenue Wednesday morning weren't carrying victims of strokes or heart attacks. Instead, they carried patients whose suffering will only get worse if their health coverage is cut by Governor Phil Bredesen's proposal to scale back TennCare.

The TennCare Saves Lives Coalition held nine rallies in nine days in major Tennessee cities to show how the proposed cuts could affect thousands of people.

About 100 people attended the Memphis "Drive to Save Lives" protest. They chanted, "Hey, hey, Bredesen, let us keep our medicine."

Bredesen's plan proposes scaling back coverage for 719,000 Tennesseans. Of that number, 323,000 people would be completely cut off.

"There are a very substantial number of people in Tennessee who will die if they're cut from the program," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.

Pollack said if Bredesen's proposal is passed, it would be the largest state cutback in health care in the history of the country. Although Bredesen has acknowledged that the cuts will hurt, he says it's the best way to balance the state budget. n

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