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Commentary

HillaryCare in Tennessee
Wall Street Journal, 12-6-04

One attempt at “universal coverage” in the state of Tennessee is about to end in dismal failure – thanks in part to America’s lawsuit culture. Whatever you can say about Canadian health care, at least it isn’t burdened by America’s bristling legions of trial lawyers.

When, in 1994, Tennessee passed the equivalent of Hillarycare (dubbed “TennCare”), costs (along with mismanagement) exploded. “TennCare now eats up one-third of the state’s entire budget and is growing fast.” The Governor, Phil Bredesen, is trying to avoid fiscal ruin while trying to return the state to a traditional Medicare model. The problem is that activist groups have hamstrung the legislature with lawsuits and consent decrees that mandate that the state pay for any and every form of medical care under the sun, including many over-the-counter drugs. “If TennCare denies a claim for a drug or any other type of care, an appeal can be filed for next to nothing. Fighting each appeal costs the state as much as $1,600 in legal fees. With 10,000 appeals filed every month, it’s often easier and cheaper to pay a claim, regardless of the merits.” This is, in miniature, a picture of what HillaryCare would look like on the national stage – and it’s not pretty.



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