The Sunday Tennessean
's front page account
of negotiations between Phil Bredesen and Gordon Bonnyman over TennCare badly misses the underlying reality that led Bredesen to start throwing people off the health insurance rolls. Reading the story, you get the impression that Bredesen proposed softer, gentler measures that Bonnyman rejected, leaving the governor no choice but to go with harsher cuts.
But the reporting here is based in large part on an exchange of letters between the two that the newspaper has (commendably) made available online for all to see -- and if you read those letters you get a rather different impression. Bonnyman clearly said he was willing to talk about any and all reform possibilities, but declined to endorse the governor's specific proposals because they were focused almost exclusively on deep cuts in benefits and eligibility. In a Dec. 28 letter, Bredesen said "the solution at this stage unfortunately lies only in either significant benefit reductions, my preferred approach, or significant enrollment reductions" and accuses Bonnyman of having taken the "position that there was nothing further to talk about." Bonnyman's lengthy reply in a letter on Jan. 6 makes it clear that Bredesen has both misrepresented TJC's supposed intransigence and selectively ignored legitimate alternative approaches to the TennCare mess.
Don't take my word for it; read the documents
. They make the governor look haughty and mulish.