Thursday, August 09, 2007

Governor Bredesen Angling for VP/Cabinet Spot?
I don't know how else to interpret the inclusion in today's Tennessean of his op-ed relating to building a health care system that covers every American. As Governor, he has his hands full implementing the state proposals he's put through after dismantling our TennCare system. But he had plenty of time to answer the newspaper's question of the day: "How should the nation go about providing health care for all citizens." And his essay - part of an opinion-page debate that included Senator Bob Corker - was most definitely federal in scope and interest. Here's a bit:
[I]t is past time for every American to be covered. But the ideas being talked about today are increasingly stale, reflecting more the world as it was in 1965 when the Medicare and Medicaid programs were first passed than 21st-century realities. Today, we find ourselves with a problem that has become so large, so complex and interconnected that, unless Washington can find a way to lay aside the politics and work together, we're going to continue to fail.
Sounds like a guy that would like to be relevant on the national stage, don't you think? Corker's proposal, by the way, is this: Give every American $2,160 - every family $5,400 - in the form of tax credits for the purpose of purchasing health insurance.
These tax credits would be both advanceable and refundable, meaning that low-income families would have the money to make timed, monthly payments and would receive the full value of the tax credit regardless of the amount of taxes they owe the government. This proposal also provides states with flexible incentives to reform health insurance markets to ensure that affordable, high-quality health insurance is available. In short, this bill provides Americans cash to purchase health insurance in the private market.
I'm no fan of Corker, but I'll give him 2 things this week. 1) This plan at least extends Republican principles - like them or not - to the challenge of covering every American; in short, he at least considers it a problem worth solving (even if his main stated motivation is to avoid the inevitable government-run solution that will come if the country's health coverage woes continue to grow). Most Republicans don't sound like they even consider this a problem, just a feature of the market-based economy. 2) He voted for the Senate version of S-CHIP expansion, raising cigarette taxes to cover more children. Most Republicans did not.

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