MARYVILLE (WATE) – A Maryville couple who had to legally separate just to keep health benefits are hoping Governor Bill Haslam’s new health care plan will help them get their family back together.
Larry and Linda Drain currently live in separate homes, but they’re optimistic Haslam’s “Insure Tennessee” plan can put them back under one roof again. They were married for 33 years.
For months, 63-year-old Larry Drain had been writing to Haslam hoping he would change his mind about Medicaid expansion.
Drain took out early retirement from his social security and he said that put his wife’s health insurance at risk.
She depends on it to help continue treatment for epilepsy and other health problems. For the last year, the two have been legally separated so that she could keep her insurance.
“It’s been murder. It’s been extraordinary misery, a lot of pain. A million things that you think of as being part of your life have been gone for us,” said Drain.
Along with writing letters, the Drains have been part of protests in Knoxville and Nashville asking Haslam to expand Medicaid.
The announcement of the “Insure Tennessee” plan came as an enormous relief to the Drains who want to live in the same home again. It’s the governor’s alternative to Medicaid expansion.
“There’s been a zillion times where I have lost hope and today for the very first time, in an extremely long time, I feel hope,” said Drain.
It’s that hope that is driving Drain to hold on a little bit longer without his wife by his side.
“A lot depends on what the legislature does. It doesn’t solve all of our problems. It gives us a chance to live together,” said Drain.
Drain said he is planning to be at the legislative session to make sure lawmakers approve the plain. He said he’s already been talking with many individually to get them to vote yes.