Report From the States

Lessons From Tennessee's Failed Health Care Reform

Merrill Matthews, Jr., PhD

Although President Bill Clinton's massive health care proposal did not become law, several states adopted variations of it to make health insurance more accessible and affordable for their citizens. Among the most ambitious of these state-based plans is TennCare, which Tennessee officials proudly described as a less ambitious version of the Clinton plan. Rather than provide a model for how government can improve health care, however, TennCare offers other states lessons on what they should and should not do. Instead of trying to adapt portions of the Clinton plan to address differing conditions in state-based health insurance markets, the states should urge their federal representatives to change the tax code to enable a truly competitive market to flourish. In such a market, individuals and families would enjoy real consumer choice as health insurance companies competed directly for consumers' dollars. In a real market, state legislators' role would be to review outdated rules and regulations and redesign state insurance laws to promote, not inhibit, consumer choice and competition.

Backgrounder No. 1357, The Heritage Foundation, bgl357es.html.

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2000;5(4);144. Copyright©2000 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)