Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy authored a damning article in this morning’s (December 19) Memphis Flyer, outlining the problems that face Shelby County since Governor Haslam apparently has no intention of doing anything to expand Medicaid. See his figures here:
Having just finished a survey of Tennessee’s financial and healthcare position by state senate district, I decided to publish my own summary from the sources I have been using. First, let’s look at the state unemployment picture, surely a factor in affordable health care. The four counties with the highest unemployment are Scott (17.40%), Obion (13.30%), Pickett (12.50%), and Lauderdale (12.40%). Twelve counties have unemployment figures in the 11% range. Seventeen counties are in the 10% unemployment range. Twenty-three counties are in the 9% range, and none are lower than 5.40%.
Does that sound bad? Check out the poverty rates. Greene County is highest with 31.50%, followed by Hamilton (surprise!) with 30.30%. Twenty-six counties have poverty rates between 30% and 20%. Fifty-nine counties have rates between 20% and 10%.
What about median household incomes? Williamson County is on top, of course, at $89,063, followed by Wilson at $61,400. Six counties have median incomes between $60,000 and $50,000. Twenty-three counties have medians between $50,000 and $40,000. Fifty-five counties have medians between $40,000 and $30,000. Remember, $37,219.50 represents 135% federal poverty level for a family of five.
Remember all those hospitals I listed that are in danger of reducing operations or closing? Commissioner Mulroy explained the situation in Shelby County. If you add the numbers of health care employees potentially laid off throughout the state, you get 21,260.
Only five of our counties do not have at least 20% of youngsters 18 and under. Knox County, surprisingly, has the lowest percentage at 16.70%. For better or for worse, these young people are our hope for the future. What are we doing to them?
Come to think of it, what are we doing to ourselves?