Tennessee GOP Refusal To Expand Medicaid Forced Married Couple To Separate After 33 Years So Wife Can Keep Insurance (VIDEO)

medicaid expansion You know how Republicans are constantly accusing Democrats of assaulting the institution of marriage? Well, it turns out Republicans are the ones who are actually harming marriages.

Tennessee is controlled by Republicans. Governor Bill Haslem is a Republican and the GOP controls the legislature. So when Obamacare gave states the opportunity to expand Medicaid so that millions of Americans would have healthcare coverage, Tennessee Republicans refused to do it. Their decision has consequences. Many poor Tennessee residents do not have health insurance, but for at least one married couple, no Medicaid expansion forced them to make a heartbreaking decision.

Larry and Linda Drain have been together for 33 years through thick and thin. Financially, things have been rough but they always went through it together. Like many Americans, Larry decided it was time to retire and spend more time with his beloved wife, who has epilepsy. But because of the heartlessness of Tennessee Republicans, things didn’t go as planned. In fact, their lives turned into a living hell.

According to the Huffington Post,

“After Larry opted for early retirement last fall, the Drains were told that his retirement benefits surpassed the limit on unearned income. That set off a domino effect. Larry’s retirement check eliminated Linda’s SSI benefits, and without those she was ineligible for TennCare. Linda would also be disqualified from TennCare if the couple had monthly income higher than $85, so another job for Larry wouldn’t fix anything.”

What happened next is touching as much as it is tragic.

As Larry told Huffington Post, Linda “can’t lose her insurance or she will die.” So, they did what many couples do and they discussed their options. The only way Linda could keep her insurance was if they were apart. Devastated, the two separated, thus sacrificing their marriage so she can remain covered to get the care she needs to stay alive.

We cussed and discussed and prayed and screamed and hollered and looked at all the options, and we figured out for the month of January, we would have $30 to live on for the entire month,” Larry said. “In February it would get worse, and in March it would get worse than that. So on Dec. 26, after 33 years of marriage, we decided to separate.

Since that day, Larry has written 45 letters to Governor Haslem begging him to expand Medicaid so that he and Linda can stay together. But he has only received silence in return. Meanwhile, Linda is living with her mother until she finds a place to live. It’s a tough search, especially since Linda’s income is based on her disability. Their situation is now so bad that Larry is close to being homeless if their luck doesn’t change soon. This scenario causes Linda to fear for her husband’s safety and well-being.

“I would hate to see my husband out there away from home, knowing he’s at this exhaustion point, and I could do nothing, and I would want to hold him and have him with me,” she told HuffPost.

Furthermore, their time apart has only caused them emotional and physical distress.

“You don’t realize how much you miss each other until you don’t see each other,” Larry explained. “You don’t realize how much you worry until the other person is not there. You don’t realize how many different things are important to you that aren’t so important when you’re all by yourself.”

Here’s the video via Huffington Post:

Tennessee isn’t the only state that has rejected Medicaid expansion due to Republicans throwing a temper tantrum over Obamacare. To date, 23 other states haven’t expanded Medicaid and they are all largely controlled by the GOP, including Florida, Maine, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania,and Alaska. One has to wonder how many other married couples are going through the same situation. ThinkProgress reports that five million to six million Americans are in the same boat as the Drains.

Because Republicans in Tennessee refused to budge on their opposition to Medicaid expansion, a good marriage has been shattered. Two people who want to be together for the rest of their lives are being prevented from doing so because of healthcare laws crafted by the GOP. How can the Republican Party call themselves the defenders of marriage if they can’t even help a couple- who are the very example of a heterosexual marriage they claim to support- remain in their marriage without having to worry about their income or health coverage? The GOP should surrender their ‘protect marriage’ platform, because they certainly aren’t practicing what they preach.