Tennessee's 50th Governor

Tennessee's 50th Governor Bill Lee
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On this historic occasion of the inauguration of Tennessee's 50th Governor Bill Lee, the Tennessee Disability Coalition would like to share an open letter to our new Chief Executive.

January 18, 2019

Dear Governor Lee,

On behalf of the Tennessee Disability Coalition, we would like to extend our sincere congratulations on your inauguration as the 50th Governor of the great state of Tennessee. We hope that your first days in office are smooth as you begin to tackle the many important issues facing our state.

The Tennessee Disability Coalition is a statewide alliance of over forty member organizations joined together to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. We would like to thank you for committing time and resources during your campaign to get to know us and to seek input from the people we serve. 

Our nonprofit has served Tennesseans with disabilities across age, across diagnosis and across the state for the past thirty years. In that time, we have taken part in a tremendous shift in the way individuals with disabilities are seen, treated, and how we are expected to take part in society. Today, there are about one million Tennesseans with disabilities. Overwhelmingly, we want to go to school, get a job and lead productive lives in our communities just like our peers.

Inclusive schools, workplaces and communities benefit us all. State government can serve as an effective model for the low-cost and low-barriers to creating inclusion and its rewards.

State government also plays an important role in establishing the services and supports needed for Tennesseans with disabilities to live and to thrive.  While most do not access health care through Medicaid (TennCare), commercial insurance options can be insufficient for some of us with complex medical needs. This is true for a small number of children with long-term disability or complex medical needs whose health care costs have become overwhelming for their families. If middle-income families have private insurance, but not TennCare, out-of-pocket expenses and gaps in services can run thousands of dollars each month, leaving families unable to meet their children’s needs. Tennessee needs a dedicated pathway to Medicaid like a TEFRA/Katie Beckett Program to serve these kids. We are working with a group of desperate families on a solution and ask for your partnership in 2019 to deliver one for them.

Our organization’s motto is: “the lifting power of many wings can achieve twice the distance of flying alone.” Our greatest strength comes from collaboration and we look forward to working with you and your administration in the years to come. Please reach out if we can ever be of assistance.

Anita Teague                            
Chairman of the Board of Directors        

Carol Westlake
Founding Executive Director

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Tennessee Disability Coalition

The Coalition is an alliance of organizations and individuals who have joined to promote the full and equal participation of men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. We work together to advocate for public policy that ensures self-determination, independence, empowerment, and inclusion for people with disabilities in areas such as accessibility, education, healthcare, housing, and voting rights.

Copyright © 2018 Tennessee Disability Coalition. All Rights Reserved. Tennessee Disability Coalition


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Office Address
Tennessee Disability Coalition
955 Woodland Street
Nashville, TN 37206

Nashville: (615) 383-9442Toll-free: (888) 643-7811Email: