Senate District Twelve, represented by Senator Ken Yager, consists of Campbell, Fentress, Morgan, Pickett, Rhea, Roane, and Scott Counties. These are all small counties; Roane, the most populous, has only 54,181 people. How will these small counties fare if Governor Haslam does not submit a federally acceptable Tennessee Plan for Medicaid Expansion?
These counties have varying unemployment rates, all higher than Hamilton County’s 7.50%. Roane County has 7.60% unemployment, and Fentress County has 9.00%, but the other five counties are in double digit rates. Morgan has 10.40% unemployment, while Campbell and Rhea are tied at 10.50%. Pickett County has 12.50% unemployment, and Scott tops the list at 17.40%.
Poverty rates for the seven counties are all double-digit figures. Roane County does best with a 12.00% poverty rate. Fentress is 13.20%, Rhea is 13.40%, Campbell is 13.70%, Morgan 14.90%, Pickett 18.40%, and Scott 21.80%. s.com These are troubling statistics. Median household income for the area is also low, ranging from $29,245 in Fentress to $43,129 in Roane. If those figures represent the median, many citizens make less. People here would certainly benefit if Medicaid were expanded to 138% poverty level. (For comparison purposes, in the 48 contiguous states, $31,792.50 is considered 135% poverty level for a family of four.)
Nor is this district blessed with abundant hospitals. Morgan and Pickett Counties have no hospitals. Of the six hospitals in the seven county area, three are in danger of curtailing their operations or closing because of the change in the way federal money is distributed. These hospitals are Campbell County’s Jellico Community Hospital (225 employees), Fentress County’s Jamestown Regional (145 employees), and Roane County’s Roane Medical Center (298 employees).
Between 20% and 26% of the districts’ population are under 18. Rhea County is at the bottom of the scale, with 20.80% children, and Roane County leads with 25.70%. Considering the area’s unemployment and poverty statistics, these children could certainly benefit from a Tennessee Plan for Medicaid Expansion.
Concerned citizens of Senate District 12 can contact Senator Yager at 615-741-1449.