Health care costs are still eating up too much of our state's budget and impacting the federal deficit and nation's debt. If we maintained health care costs at their current levels, which we know are inflated, for the next eight years--just kept them flat--we'd eliminate the nation's deficit. To do that, we can't keep doing what we have been doing. So, though the special session has ended, I hope we can find a way to work together to address those problems.
We were the first state to make health care available to every child. Thatís a commitment we need to keep. Itís not just children who depend on TennCare. Itís our neighbors, our friends and our families who wouldnít have health insurance any other way. And for every dollar that goes to care for these people, the state pays only 18 cents. TennCare must be saved.
Let me speak very plainly. If TennCare fails, our only real alternative is to drop 350,000 Tennesseans who canít get basic, affordable health insurance. We would do our best to continue to cover our children. But we would shift to a stripped-down, managed-care program for our federally mandated Medicaid population. We will not go to a fee-for-service arrangement. Thatís a bad alternative, and itís not my choice.
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