Rumors in DC are that Phil Bredesen, Tennessee’s controversial governor, is on a very short list to lead DHHS and the national health reform effort. This is an enormously bad idea. Not only did Bredesen preside over huge health cuts that hurt thousands in Tennessee, he made his fortune in the HMO industry. He’s got ethical problems of his own (as Ezra Klein writes.) When Bredesen’s wife decided a few years ago that the Gov’s mansion needed a $9.4 million makeover, guess who donated $150,000 to the effort? That’s right, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.
There are plenty of other good candidates out there for this important job. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has the political smarts and health background to be a top contender. Cindy Mann, former director of family and children’s health programs in DHHS under the Clinton Administration and now head of Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families, would be a natural choice. She even drives her own car and pays her taxes. With candidates like these, choosing Phil Bredesen would be a mistake. Feel free to email Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, at Rahm_Emanuel@who.eop.gov and let him know your thoughts.