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Lottery balls
The heavily teabagger-leaning legislature in Tennessee is opposed to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and even if Republican Gov. Bill Haslam decides this week to support that expansion, it probably won't happen. That's despite the very real need among low-income Tennesseans for affordable health care, a need that is entirely not met by the state's twice-a-year lottery for the TennCare program for those who don't qualify for Medicaid but can't afford insurance. And in fact, this few-hour window of opportunity for affordable health care is further limited to those who are elderly, blind, disabled, or a caretaker of a child who qualifies for Medicaid, and have large medical bills.
State residents who have high medical bills but would not normally qualify for Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor, can call a state phone line and request an application. But the window is tight—the line shuts down after 2,500 calls, typically within an hour—and the demand is so high that it is difficult to get through. [...]

“It’s like the Oklahoma land rush for an hour,” said Russell Overby, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society in Nashville. “We encourage people to use multiple phones and to dial and dial and dial.”

The phone lines are open only for a few hours, twice a year, which obviously doesn't meet the demand in the state. If the state participated in Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, an additional 180,000 people could be covered in TennCare, according to the state's own estimates. But for now, those people have no other hope than the twice-early chance of hitting the dial-in lottery.
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Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 11:46 AM PDT.

Also republished by Three Star Kossacks and Daily Kos.

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