Governor rejects public meeting, occupation continues.
(NASHVILLE, June 29, 2005) As Gov. Phil Bredesen debates ethics considerations to make Tennessee government more open, he refuses to meet with TennCare demonstrators in public.
The tenth day of occupation by TennCare protestors, the governor’s staff offered a closed-door meeting.
“Gov. Bredesen is right now proposing an ethics panel for the state to improve transparency in state government,” said Randy Alexander of Tennessee ADAPT. “But he only seems to want transparency for other branches of state government, not his office and not TennCare.”
Tennessee lawmakers have recently been accused of selling state government influence in an FBI sting titled “Tennessee Waltz.” Bredesen is responding to public outrage because of apparent corruption in state government. The governor may call for a special ethics review.
At about 10:30 this morning, Bredesen staff members Dave Cooley and
Tam Gordon met with activists occupying the governor’s office and offered a meeting with the governor. The meeting they proposed was a small, closed-door meeting. From the first day of the occupation, the coalition of activists has asked for an open meeting. Cooley and Gordon would not negotiate; they would only consider a secrete encounter.
“The group was united in our demand for an open, public dialogue,” said Alexander. “We feel that our ideas and input will save TennCare. We started out with that belief and we will hold fast to our beliefs.”
The activists also have demanded a stop to the TennCare disenrollment process.
Randy said that the governor’s staff attempted to paint the demonstrators as unwilling to meet with the governor. He said he thought Bredesen may have them arrested tonight.
In 2002 Bredesen’s opponent suggested that more than 100,000 people might need to be dropped from TennCare. Bredesen promised that he would “fix” the Medicaid system in Tennessee. He made his appeal from the experience of running a health-care company.
Rather than fix TennCare, Bredesen ran up a larger deficit and his company went bankrupt.
Last week Bredesen was in Washington DC spinning his return to federal Medicaid as some kind of reform.
“So three thoughts for some strengthening of the fundamentals of Medicaid,” said Governor Bredesen, “everybody pays something, pay first for what is most important, pay for what works.”
Bredesen fails to explain why these “three thoughts” could not be used to fix TennCare as he promised. The activists point out that the governor clearly does not want any public scrutiny of his healthcare plan. Although the governor’s plan is basically an untested return to the forty-year-old federal Medicaid program, Bredesen portrays himself as some kind of reformer.
Despite the governor’s office rigid insistence on a confidential meeting, Activists were bolstered receiving a support package from Southwest Pennsylvania ADAPT.
The occupation continues tonight inside, with the on-going vigil outside the building.