Disabled 27-year-old finally qualifies for Tenncare

Disabled 27-year-old finally qualifies for Tenncare

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Tabitha Deaton cried when she found out that she had been approved for Tenncare. Tabitha Deaton cried when she found out that she had been approved for Tenncare.
"It was a miracle for this to happen, it really was," David Carter said. "It was a miracle for this to happen, it really was," David Carter said.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

TAZEWELL (WATE) - After years of waiting for Tenncare, a young disabled woman in Claiborne County has finally been accepted.

6 On Your Side first reported about Tabitha Deaton in April as she struggled to pay her medical bills.

Several agencies and community service organizations have intervened and been able to help Tabitha Deaton since we last spoke with her in April.

At that time, the 27-year-old blind woman was despondent, faced huge hospital bills and had no medical insurance.  

Despite disability payments from Social Security, she's a year away from getting Medicare benefits and has tried for two years to qualify for Tenncare.

Then the good news from Tenncare arrived and so did other assistance.
       
As she walks through her home in Tazewell, Tabitha Deaton is learning to use a white cane.

Designed as a mobility tool, the cane was donated to her last month by the Lions Club in Halls.

For several months, her neighbor David Carter has assisted Tabitha, who is legally blind and also a severe diabetic.

Deaton had to quit her job because of her illness. She's on Social Security disability now, but draws only $783 a month.      

With no immediate family living in the area to help pay expenses, she's accumulated a huge bill at the Claiborne County Hospital that she will likely never be able to pay back.

Finally a few weeks ago, after two years of trying, she was accepted for Tenncare.

"I cried. I literally broke down and cried because I didn't ever think I would be approved for Tenncare," Deaton said.

"Now she can get her medication, her strips, her blood pressure medicine," David Carter said.

Before, Tabitha said she often cut back on medicine so she could buy food. As a stop-gap measure, the Interfaith Health Clinic in Knoxville has been assisting Deaton.  

It's a medical facility for low income, working people or the uninsured who qualify. Here a patient pays 10%. The clinic picks up 90% of a bill.
   
"I would just like to live a normal life right now," she said.

In April, Tabitha had almost given up hope of ever getting permanent medical coverage.

Then, in early May, she visited Kim Ward's office, at the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency, ETHRA. Ward is a coordinator with SHIP, the state's health insurance assistance program.

Tabitha again applied for Tenncare. With the persistence of Kim Ward, the application was finally approved.

"We submitted it, then we kept following it to see when it was processed. Found out it was denied, filed an appeal within 48 hours, spoke with Claiborne County DHS, they helped us work through it. She has been approved," Ward said.

"I'm in excellent spirits. I'm happy, actually can live a little bit of a normal life," Deaton said.

Kim Ward also signed up Tabitha for the home and community based waiver program called Choices.

"They bring out nurses that will help me bathe. They will cook meals for me, will help me clean," she said.

Now with medical care and assistance at home, Deaton believes her health will continue to improve.

"It was a miracle for this to happen, it really was," Carter said.      


Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports can be seen every Monday and Wednesday on 6 News at 5:00.

If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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