The governor's harsh cuts

Gov. Phil Bredesen may well be Tennessee's best governor in decades, but he still will have stains on his record. He came into office making huge and controversial cuts in TennCare, the state's Medicaid program, and it looks like he will go out making similarly harsh cuts again.

One the table now is another round of proposed cuts in the already downsized TennCare program that would sharply restrict or eliminate a range of needed services. Medical providers characterize these cuts as "devastating," and a spokesperson for TennCare admits the cuts are "painful."

"In normal circumstances," TennCare's Kelly Gunderson said, "these are benefits we would not be touching."

Cutting coverage, not disease

That's no consolation. More to the point, it won't stop the need for the services from occurring. If approved, the cuts would mainly leave the most needy TennCare patients in impossibly difficult positions; compound their medical problems due to lack of attention to chronic conditions; and excessively burden medical care providers by shifting the cost of denied coverage for care to them.