Cover Tennessee is Bredesen's Answer to TennCare

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Our country has never had more people without health insurance.

The Census Bureau, says nearly 16 percent of Americans don't have it.

In Tennessee, Governor Phil Bredesen's answer is "Cover Tennessee," which includes prescription drugs.

Children, workers at small businesses and people with pre-existing medical conditions often fall through the cracks when it comes to medical care.

And Cover Tenneessee could be their safety net.

It's Governor Phil Bredesen's multi-pronged health initiative and a long-awaited answer for the many people who were kicked off the TennCare rolls in 2005.

"Well, it's taken about a year to get something else in place, and it's not going to be a replacement for TennCare, it doesn't do the same kind of thing for the same identical groups of people, but it does do something," says David Holden from the Knox County Office on Aging.

One of those programs, called Cover Rx, is slated to begin later this year.

The program will provide prescription drug coverage to people who don't have insurance, or whose insurance plan doesn't cover prescription drugs.

It's available to Tennessee residents who are US citizens or qualified legal aliens, between 19 and 64 years of age, with a household income below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

Knox County Office on Aging Director David Holden says the plan will help the working poor make ends meet.

"If you're taking a relatively new generic or certainly if you're taking a brand name medicine, you may be talking about 50, 60, 100 dollars a month for some of these medicines, or more. And if your income is not real good, that a lot of money to be going out," Holden says.

The need for such a plan was evidenced on Tuesday, when, on the very first day of enrollment, state officials say 4,200 people applied for the plan.

Cover Rx is not insurance, so you pay no premiums.

But there will be co-payments which will vary, depending on income.

You'd be able to fill no more than five prescriptions a month.

More Information On Cover Tennessee.