Bredesen offers ‘Fresh' take on health care reform

Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 11:35pm

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is unhappy about the state of American health care. In particular, he says the Obama administration and the Democrats who drafted and eventually passed the Affordable Care Act have set the table for an even worse system. And he’s no longer willing to play politics when it comes to reforming a dysfunctional system.

“Were this some private sector endeavor, we’d have long since begun moving on to something better designed and more efficient,” Bredesen writes in Fresh Medicine, his first book. “In the public sector, we dutifully trot out these half-century-old ideas like one of those Rambler Americans, fix a few dents, put on a coat of wax and pronounce them once again our solution.”

Fresh Medicine is at once an indictment of the current state of our health care system and a pointed plan for a new model that is, as he says, “uniquely American.”

What Bredesen calls the “Group Health Plan for America” is, at its core, a system in which all Americans are covered through a federally funded but privately executed system paid for — like Social Security — by a new, 20 percent income tax. He proposes “systems of care,” which would work to bring cottage industries together and provide more coordinated — and thus less costly — services (you don’t book a flight by contracting with a mechanic, a company that makes seats, a pilot and so on, he writes).

“In a way, people have recognized in this country for a long time that this approach we have of all these cottage industries that are working essentially independently has all sorts of problems,” he told The City Paper.

Some might balk at the 20 percent payroll tax, but Bredesen says it’s less than what the typical American family pays now, and it sets up future generations against insolvency.

Bredesen said his administration’s cuts to the TennCare program led him to evangelize for a simpler system.

“I ended up with this very discouraged view of Medicaid and the way it’s going to adapt,” he said. “Let’s just take a much simpler system, and one that applies to everybody for some base-level care. That’s just better for everybody.”

6 Comments on this post:

By: Ex Civil on 10/11/10 at 7:01

Hay let's extend the present Social Security tax to the high income people [bonuses, and stock options] that push incomes above the level [some where around $100,000] where that tax is not collected. Yes at some dollar amount the big wigs in a company are excused from paying the Social Security tax, it is indexed and I do not know the current point where that excused, making too much money, kicks in.

By: Kosh III on 10/11/10 at 7:06

What's wrong Phil? Did you run out of sick people to kick to the curb?

I think the limit is around 100 thousand.

The AMA plan is the way to go.

By: courier37027 on 10/11/10 at 10:08

Phil made a name for himself by starting a healthcare company from his home's den table. This entrepreneural theme was repeated in Nashville mayoral and TN gubernatorial campaigns. Now, as governor of a bloated budget, author of a failed state run healthcare system and now a proponent of socialized medicine light, I ask the governor has he completely lost his way?

By: pswindle on 10/11/10 at 10:39

President Obama has set the stage for better and better health care. Of course, it needs to be refined. That is what happens with most bill out of Washington. We had to start somewhere becasue the only one making money was the insurance comnpanies. IT had gotten so bad that most people can not afford to to to the doctor. I think all should have to pay a something for health insurance and not ride off of the ones that pay.

By: RTungsten on 10/11/10 at 1:24

pswindle: Apparently you have not looked at what Obama rammed through Congress (much like our folks in Congress). He wants many people to get eveything for free and let the rich folks pay for it. "Better and better helthcare" only if you are poor.

By: bettysands1 on 10/11/10 at 8:38

Take another look at the new health care plan. Even HCA now likes it, after taking time to understand it. Don't drink the kool aid from the noisy right wing and take time to look into this yourself.
The American public is currently being railroaded by the "small government" windbags (imagine no parks, no libraries, no police, no schools, no mail, no roads, no buses, etc.) into voting for inexperienced leaders who will lead us nowhere good.