Phil Bredesen for Secretary of HHS?

Now that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name for Secretary of HHS word is the the Obama administration is considering Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen for the post.

According to Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic

As governor, Bredesen presided over some drastic cuts to TennCare, Tennessee’s once innovative effort to reform Medicaid.

… 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 first commercial HMOs to cash in on managed care during the late 1980s. This experience, plus his confidence 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 benefits. 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.”

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