Even if Governor Lee doesn’t care about people with disabilities, at least the leftist Tennessean newspaper does. In December, the paper ran a pretty detailed story about Tennesseans born with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are supposed to get services from TennCare, but aren’t.
Right now there are 5,000 of these folks actively trying to get services but instead, they are “stuck on a waiting list.” TennCare, one of the worst agencies in the Tennessee state government, isn’t even asking the Governor or the legislature for enough money to serve all these people. TennCare says it’s willing to wait for however many years it takes for the money to be there to help these people.
There’s been no mention that the Governor included the money in his budget either. Instead, he’s been talking about spending down the state’s TANF (cash welfare) reserve probably as a way to funnel more money to the refugees he’s trucking into the state. Unlike most other legal immigrants, refugees are immediately eligible when they get here to apply for all forms of public assistance, including cash welfare.
In fact, the federal government mandates that refugees be enrolled into TennCare if they’re eligible. The federal government admits that they used to reimburse the state for the money the state spends on TennCare for refugees, but then stopped because Congress decided to spend less money on refugees. Congress decided to let states that wanted refugees use state money instead.
That’s why Tennessee has sued the federal government – because the state is being forced by the federal resettlement contractor-profiteers to use state money to fill the money gap created by the federal government which the Governor apparently agrees the state should do. Like pay for TennCare for refugees.
And that leaves less state money to pay for people with disabilities who are waiting for help from TennCare.
So next time you read or hear folks from Bill Lee’s administration say nonsensical things like “if we don’t take refugees, the state won’t get the federal money to support them” realize it’s the same political propaganda put out by the federal resettlement contractors.
In and amongst Bill Lee’s rambling and disconnected first radio interview trying to justify his decision to keep the refugees flowing into Tennessee, he said he was following his heart, his Christian faith, his (supposed) conservative values – “It was a decision based on a number of factors. Including my heart. Including my faith belief that we have a Biblical mandate to provide refuge for those who are persecuted and oppressed.”
So where’s his HEART for the state’s disabled?
Tennessee’s 2019 overall ranking for intending to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is 26th among states. BUT Tennessee is 48th in actually delivering the services to those who need it Ten years ago, Tennessee ranked 43rd in this category. The number of families receiving the needed supports in terms of state spending has been virtually stagnant since 2011.
Someone should remind Lee that whether or not he likes it, the decision he made is about state policy, not his Bible, his heart or even finding cheap labor for the Lee Company or his corporate cronies at the Chamber of Commerce. (You know, “business decisions” like his campaign donations to pro-abortion candidates Megan Barry and Phil Bredesen).
He has a duty to care first and foremost for the citizens of Tennessee.
And if he can’t find the ethical courage to honor the oath he took when he became governor, he could defer to 1 Timothy 5:8 which we presume is in the same Bible he consulted for his decision on refugee resettlement:
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Bill Lee wants Tennessee voters to accept that his decision to resettle refugees is just about disagreeing on the issue. Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice shame on us.