TennCare lauded in Nashville speech from president’s point person on healthcare

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price began a speech in Nashville this week by talking about what unites us in health care policy.

“We all want a system that is that is accessible for everybody,” he told a crowd at Vanderbilt’s First Amendment, organized by the group Healthy Tennessee. “We want a system that is affordable for everybody. We want a system of the highest quality. We want a system that incentivizes innovation, and a system that empower accountability with choices.”

Those are goals few in the crowd of health care professionals could probably all find find agreement, but the debate has always been how to do it as medical insurance choices have diminished and heath care premiums always on the rise.

President Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary cited change over the years in the state’s Medicaid program TennCare, which is where nearly a million and a half lower income Tennesseans get their medical insurance.

“By restructuring the program, focusing Tennessee taxpayer dollars on those most in need, TennCare was transformed from a program struggling to survive into one of the most sustainable Medicaid programs in the country,” stressed the secretary.

Price said Washington could have looked at the lessons from TennCare in 2009 as it revamped the nations health system under Obamacare.

But Secretary Price did not mention the estimated 150-to-200 thousand people who lost coverage in Tennessee during the TennCare restructing in 2005, some even camping out in then Governor Phil Bredesen’s office for a short period.

Millions potentially losing coverage has been a criticism of what has been put forward by President Trump, but the secretary sees if differently.

“Congress has a real chance to repeal, reform and improve fashioning a law that will empower the American people including everyone in this room to build a patient centered community centered health care system,” he said while closing his speech.

While careful about going too far on what’s ahead for either Tennessee or Washington, Price said health care solutions come from the bottom up, where all the stakeholders are heard.

It’s a daunting task that has been debated for decades.

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