Monday, August 14, 2006

TennCare at National Conference of State Legislatures

The subject of TennCare and its successor, CoverTennessee, were under much discussion at today's meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures, which began today at the Opryland Hotel.

After hearing a presentation on recent initiatives by various states for providing health care coverage to uninsured populations, Tennessee's Commissioner of Health, Dr. Kenneth Robinson, noted that the presenter had made no mention of CoverTennessee and asked for her thoughts on the proposal. The presenter bluntly responded that the given the dollars proposed for the coverage, that she had doubts as to whether the state would even get much response to a Request for Proposal (RFP).

The CoverTennessee proposal calls for a public/private partnership in which the state would underwrite a portion of the $150/month per member premium. For the uninsured population that is a low premium amount, because such programs tend to suffer from what insurers call anti-selection -- sick people are more likely to buy into the program than well people.

The CoverTennessee proposal is unusual in that it gives a dollar figure and asks vendors to tell what they will provide. Most RFP's work the opposite way -- the state defines the program, and vendors bid based on what they will accept as payment for the services.

Later, an entire two hour session was devoted to the subject of lessons that can be learned from Tennessee's health coverage experience. One of the presenters, Tennessee's Safety Net Director, presented an outstanding overview of the reasons for the TennCare failure and the various ways that CoverTennessee will address the state's health care coverage needs, before lapsing into full-blown statism during the question and answer period. At that point, it was emphasized that CoverTennessee was only a small start, that ultimately many more will be covered, that nurses will be found in every school, state officials will instruct in nutrition in school cafeterias across the state, that food banks will be reformed, parents will be taught to eat and feed their children properly, obesity will be eliminated, and we will all live happily ever after.

All of which was well-intended, but advocates of the nanny state always are.


Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

Whether one is pro TennCare or anti TennCare, the bottom line is Cover Tennessee is just a ruse to keep the matter of TennCare out of the headlines until after Nov 7.

4:13 AM  

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