Senate District 15 is held by Senator Charlotte Burks, who has announced her intention not to run for reelection. Citizens of Bledsoe, Cumberland, Jackson, Overton, Putnam, and White Counties should consider whether Governor Haslam submits a federally acceptable Tennessee Plan for Medicaid Expansion when they decide on her successor. This issue will affect your district.
Putnam County has the lowest unemployment rate, 7.60%. Overton comes in at 8.70%, Cumberland at 9.00%, Jackson at 9.40%, Bledsoe at 9.90%, and White at 11.30% All counties in this district have double digit poverty rates. Bledsoe is the lowest at 11.70%; the others are much higher – Cumberland 17.30%, Jackson at 18.20%, Putnam and White tied at 19.10%, and Overton with a whopping 24.20%.
These counties are poor; no median income is over $37,000. By comparison, for the contiguous states, 135% of federal poverty level for a family of 5 is $37,219.50. Some of these families surely qualify for Tenncare, but many would fall into the coverage gap between 100% and 138% poverty rates if there is no Medicaid Expansion.
All these small counties have contributed to the defense of their country. 11% of Bledsoe residents are veterans, as are 9% of Cumberland’s,12% of Jackson’s, 14% of Overton’s, 15 % of Putnam’s, and 11% of White’s. The Veterans’ Administration has an outpatient clinic in Cookeville to serve these veterans
Jackson County has no hospital. The two hospitals in White County, the hospital in Overton County, and the hospital in Putnam County are not in danger of having to curtail or cease operations because of federal funding changes. Erlanger Bledsoe, with 71 employees, and Cumberland Medical Center, with 892 employees, will be affected.
In all six counties, more than 20% of the population is under 18. Given the poverty rates and median family incomes in this district, many of these children would be at risk if some sort of Medicaid Expansion is not enacted.
Until the next election, citizens of Senate District 15 can contact Senator Charlotte Burks at 615-741-3978.