Clip files / Local news from the states

This column features selected short items about state health care policy.

Tennessee’s retreat on Medicaid points to struggle

NASHVILLE, TN—Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat elected in 2002 on a promise to rescue TennCare, announced he is cutting 323,000 low-income adults from the program and limiting services for 400,000 others. The governor said the expanded Medicaid program is devouring the state budget and he cannot afford what had been hailed as one of the most generous government health plans in the nation. The announcement sent shivers through health care advocates nationwide who see the start of a bleak trend to scale back government paid care. Even with the severe cutbacks, Mr. Bredesen said TennCare will remain among the most generous Medicaid plans in the nation in terms of the percentage of residents covered and percentage of the state budget. But for much of the past decade, Tennessee neglected other public health investments, such as community clinics, health departments, and specialty programs for immunizations and AIDS.

Washington Post, Jan. 18, 2005