Friday, February 6, 2009

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen is being vetted for Secretary of Health and Human Services

Many on the left, will NOT LIKE Governor Bredesen. He has been blamed for destroying TennCare and this from The New Republic: was a Democratic governor who would succeed in enacting the most sweeping cuts: Phil Bredesen of Tennessee. Bredesen knew a thing or two about health care: before getting into politics, he had made his fortune by founding a company called HealthAmerica—one of the fi rst commercial HMOs to cash in on managed care during the late 1980s. This experience, plus his confi dence in his own intellectual abilities (he had a physics degree from Harvard), convinced him that he could wring new efficiencies from Tennessee’s Medicaid system, just as his HMO had generated financial savings—and hefty profits—in the private market.

A lot of what Bredesen proposed to do—such as reducing fraud by providers and recipients, and improving the use of information technology—made sense. But when those quick fixes didn’t bring the TennCare budget under control, he unveiled a more straightforward plan: he would simply slash the program. More than 100,000 people who had qualified for TennCare because they were “medically needy” would lose their coverage altogether. Those allowed to remain in the program would have to make do with more limited benefi ts. The biggest change would be in the coverage of prescription drugs. “The sad reality is that we can’t afford TennCare in its current form,” Bredesen said. “It pains me to set this process in motion, but I won’t let TennCare bankrupt our state. This is the option of last resort.

Another thought on Bredesen which should have many turn on the light bulb:
That's not the only reason Bredesen worries me, though. Another concern is characterological. He is typical of the top figures in the health industry I've met over the years: Self-made entrepreneurs a bit too convinced of their own brilliance, completely unaware that the strategies for making private insurers profitable don't help--and often hurt--the sicker, poorer people whom insurance should ideally protect. Their biggest fans are often people who know a ton about health care at the macro level, but haven't spent much time observing it on the ground--where reality is often messier than the statistics suggest.


Put Bredesen in the room, where he can offer insights. But at the helm of HHS or health care reform? Sorry, no.

This job right now, in this country is the goldfish in the bowl that everyone is looking at. Health care costs in this country is also a part of the economic problem right now. Costs do need to be reeled in, but folks need to be COVERED and I mean, yesterday.

I have a look-see on this potential Bredesen. For me, right now, too close to the insurance industry. Remember, it is the insurance industry that changed medical care for millions of Americans in this country, and not for the better.

Stay in tune.


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