Richard Briggs: State Senator, Thoracic Surgeon or just money grubbing, conflicted opportunist?
In a profession where outsized egos are the norm, Dr. Sen. Richard Briggs has perhaps the largest one in state government. Thinly veiled condescension accompanies many of his comments from the dais, and his colleagues privately say that Briggs considers himself the smartest man in any room he walks into.
But aside from the chutzpah that can come from someone trained to cut open other people’s chests, what other things does the Dr. Sen. bring to the table?
Conflicts of interest. And lots of them.
As the point person for his friend Bill Haslam’s effort to expand Obamacare into Tennessee, Briggs was downright gleeful over last Friday’s Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. Briggs rushed right out and crowed about how that decision would help pass InsureTN. Obama’s lobbying trip to Tennessee yesterday must have thrilled Briggs to no end.
To help put all of he Dr. Sen. Briggs’ enthusiasm for socialized healthcare into perspective, RTP has taken a look into the capitalistic roots of Dr. Sen. Briggs’ personal agenda. You see, for Briggs Obamacare and Medicaid expansion are not only good for what ails the proletariat, there is the added advantage of lining the pockets of Dr. Briggs and his cronies with taxpayer dollars.
This from Tuesday’s Chattanooga Times/News Press:
“Briggs, a physician who stepped up to lead the second attempt to pass Haslam’s Insure Tennessee, noted that groups [like the] Tennessee Hospital Association, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and others back the Medicaid expansion.”
While Briggs was highlighting all those “powerful” groups that have (unsuccessfully) supported InsureTN, he just kinda sorta forgot to mention one of the main players in the THA, which is also one of the biggest hospital conglomerates in the country, and one who is supporting InsureTN because it will benefit them financially, big time. And just who is this medical corporate behemoth who will be feasting on the taxpayers with the extra money from InsureTN (money that doesn’t really exist, of course, but will instead just be added to the national debt)?
And just who is Tennova? Why, Dr. Sen. Richard Briggs’ employer, that’s who. Pay attention, peasants! Briggs works for Tennova and Tennova will rake in millions in extra fees from InsureTN. That will sure help pay Briggs’ huge salary.
But Dr. Sen. Briggs does more than just draw a paycheck from Tennova – he sits on their Board of Directors. In that position he gets to help make decisions on how much money the senior executives and others can siphon off from the taxpayers. What a deal!
And just to put a cherry on top, it is important to know just who the Tennova Board of Directors chose to represent them in Nashville on InsureTN. With the Republicans holding super-majorities in both houses of the legislature, who did they select to lobby for them at the capitol? Jerry Askew — a longtime, unrepentant Democrat who, along with his wife, have contributed to numerous Democrats and listed themselves on committees like “Democrats for Haslam.” So Briggs and Tennova are getting their healthcare policy advice from Democrats. Are we the only ones who see a problem here?
But wait. There’s more! To complete this sleazy little picture, the Washington Post recently highlighted the 50 biggest “rip-off” price-gouging hospitals in the country and three of the top 50 were in Tennessee. One of the three hospitals was in the Knoxville area and is owned by – yep — Tennova. Wonder if Dr. Sen. Briggs will bring that up at the next Board of Directors meeting?
Dr. Sen. Briggs apparently thinks concerns about conflicts of interest are only for others, not special people like himself.
Physician, heal thyself.