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DAY EIGHTEEN: Bredesen Attempts To Reduce TennCare Quality And Coverage.

Grier testimony shows that the Tennessee governor is not only working to decrease enrollment but also to cut value.

Photos of a Save TennCare rally in Memphis, November 2004.(NASHVILLE, July 7, 2005) The demonstration outside the governor’s office is not related to the federal case Bredesen has pursued against TennCare enrollees, but activists have been vindicated by much of the evidence. The testimony in the Grier case shows that Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has not attempted to “fix” TennCare, but rather pushed his own untested plan that cuts enrollment and diminishes quality. 

Last week former director Manny Martins said that the governor had personally approved the changes to the consent decree he is now in court attempting to reverse. Gov. Bredesen directly accused public-interest lawyers of derailing his work to repair TennCare, however it now appears it was the governor’s own mismanagement. 

Stan Davidson believed that the Grier revelations have shown that Bredesen has had a secrete agenda since 2003. He believes that the governor has made no attempt to repair the troubled TennCare system, in order to replace it with his own Medicaid alternative.

“The governor has botched this from the beginning,” said Davidson. “I’m unimpressed with his business skills, from the records of his own company. I think Bredesen clearly has the experience on how to bankrupt a system, what he is missing is how to make one work.”

This week in the Grier case, proceedings have centered on the question of what services are “medically necessary.” Rather than improve the TennCare system, it is clear that the governor is attempting take authority from healthcare professionals and empower bureaucrats. Part of the Tennessee's proposal requires doctors to choose the "least costly" care that is "adequate" and to justify their decisions based on existing medical evidence.

"It's very unclear, at best, if it's going to save money,” said Dr. Stephen Cha, a clinical scholar in the Department of General Internal Medicine at Yale University, “and may cost the state money," 

The state estimates a savings of only $8 million but the change of control from doctors to money managers may bring a huge windfall down the road to HMO’s and private insurance providers. Evidence similar to this has left activists holding vigil at the governor’s office to ask why Bredesen did not apply any of his self-expressed expertise to attempt to save TennCare rather than scrap it.

Phil BredesenActivists outside the governor’s office are demanding that Bredesen stop the massive disenrollment of Tennessee citizens and meet in a public forum to discuss the changes. Gov. Bredesen has not involved the public in his Medicaid proposals and will only meet behind closed doors about his plan.

The governor campaigned on a promise to fix TennCare. Last year he told the legislature that changes in TennCare would not include enrollment cuts, but now the Bredesen insists that the colossal changes are necessary for the financial health of the program. 

In 2003 the governor’s own independent fiscal study of TennCare recommended “additional reform was needed.” JD Hickey, now the deputy commissioner of TennCare, administered the study. Neither Bredesen nor Hickey made substantial reforms to stabilize TennCare, ease enrollment or alleviate fiscal troubles. On the contrary, Bredesen has made great effort to overturn his own agreements on TennCare to dismantle the program.

The press conference that was scheduled for today was cancelled due to the tragedy in London.

-Tim Wheat


MCIL Journal Index 2005

Follow the TennCare Sit-in

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© 2005 Tim Wheat