Bredesen Pops Up in Health Debate, Warning Against 'Mother of All Unfunded Mandates'


At the summer meeting of the National Governors Association, Gov. Phil Bredesen joined critics of Democrats pushing for health care reform. In fact, just about all the governors attending were afraid Congress is about to expand Medicaid without giving the states a way to pay for it. In The New York Times, Bredesen produced the catchiest quote by calling it "the mother of all unfunded mandates," guaranteeing that we'll see our governor pop up on the TV gab fests shortly.
"Medicaid is a poor vehicle for expanding coverage," added Mr. Bredesen, a former health care executive. "It's a 45-year-old system originally designed for poor women and their children. It's not health care reform to dump more money into Medicaid."

And so Tennessee is taking the lead in opposing the health care overhaul plans now before Congress. John Tanner voted against the House bill in committee, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker are outspoken in the Senate, Marsha Blackburn is mugging for the cameras at every opportunity, and Jim Cooper is a key player as a purported health care expert among the Blue Dog Democrats. Now add Bredesen, another so-called health care expert, to the list. They all will either (1) save the day by forcing Congress to figure out ways to include more cost controls in the reform or (2) share the blame for killing this opportunity to fix the problem.

On CNN, White House budget director Peter Orszag accused opponents of trying to run out the clock: "There are those who are advocating delay just as a desperation move to try to kill it." That's a good point. We're waiting to hear solutions from all these Tennessee public officials who have been complaining about the plans so far.

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