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DAY ELEVEN: Bredesen’s Plan Fails at Most of The Publicized Savings.

Governor forfeits $280 million to entice federal approval of his Medicare plan.

Randy Alexander meets with Governor Bredesen.(NASHVILLE, June 30, 2005) Gov. Bredesen has abandoned some of the cost-saving parts of his Medicaid proposal to speed up the federal authorization process. Tennessee agents sent a letter Tuesday to federal Medicaid officials withdrawing coverage of antihistamines and acid reducers.

Bredesen suggested that the state could save $280 million by terminating coverage of these drugs and passing the cost to individual consumers. The governor has touted his Medicaid plan that ends coverage to 323,000 citizens as an innovative cost-saving proposal. He has rejected TennCare enrollee’s suggestions to adopt methods to save about $665 million and keep current coverage.

Today in court state officials said that the governor’s proposal would cost taxpayers $100 million.

Activists have occupied the governor’s office day and night since June 20. The coalition of TennCare supporters is demanding that the governor stop the massive disqualification of citizens in need of healthcare, and openly discuss the issues.

“We will continue our occupation because it is the right thing to do,” said Randy Alexander of Tennessee ADAPT. “We believe in TennCare, we will save healthcare for the people in Tennessee.”

The nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation released a poll yesterday showing strong support for Medicaid. The survey  indicates that 74 percent of the public considers Medicaid a "very important" government program, behind only Social Security (88 percent) and Medicare (83 percent).

“This poll shows that Americans across the political spectrum value the role Medicaid plays in our healthcare system,” said Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

Alexander sleeps in the governor's office. The Tennessee governor had campaigned in 2002 on a pledge to fix TennCare; but in his recent speech to the National Press Club in Washington DC he sets his sights on solving the problems of the entire Medicaid system.

“If we want to fix the problem that the states are facing today…” The governor said, ignoring the problems in the state he was elected. Bredesen does not discuss his untried program for Tennessee, why he broke his promise or why he failed to solve problems with TennCare in his Press Club address. 

The state waited until Tuesday, the day before a federal court hearing before Judge John Nixon on TennCare benefits, to discard this part of the plan. The governor has resisted looking into realistic and common sense management changes that could mean minor changes to the current program. Bredesen has aggressively perused drastic changes to the Tennessee healthcare system, and on Monday of this week again refused to meet with activists in an open setting.

“Bredesen walks through us several times a day,” says Alexander, “every day he knows we are here.”

- Tim Wheat

MCIL Journal Index 2005

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