Senate District 17, Senator Mae Beavers, is a study in contrasts. Wilson County is one of the state’s wealthier counties. The other counties in this district, Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, and Smith, are not so fortunate. How will this district fare if Governor Haslam does not submit a federally acceptable Tennessee Plan for Medicaid Expansion?
Wilson County has the lowest unemployment rate – 6.40%. The other counties rank between Cannon at 7.30% and Clay at 9.90%. The poverty rates are a more exaggerated version of the same picture. Wilson has a 7.60% poverty rate, DeKalb follows at 14%, Smith at 16.50%, Macon at 18.60%, Cannon at 19.60%, and Clay at 26.30%.
Wilson has by far the highest median family income - $61,400. Smith County is next at $43,580, DeKalb at $36,870, Cannon at $36,742, Macon at $34,747, and Clay at $28,642. This is a significant variation within a fairly small area. Compare Clay County’s median with 135% of the Federal Poverty Level of $26,365.50 for a family of three. $37,215.50 is 135% of the Federal Poverty Level for a family of five. Obviously, some families in DeKalb, Cannon, Macon, and Clay may well fall into the coverage gap between 100% poverty level for Tenncare and the HealthCare Marketplace.
13% of Cannon County citizens are veterans, with 14% in Clay, 15% in DeKalb, 17% in Macon, 14% in Smith, and 12% in Wilson County. The nearest Veterans Administration facility for most of these would be the McMinnville Outpatient Clinic, though Wilson County residents could easily reach the facilities in Nashville.
The three hospitals in Cannon, DeKalb, and Wilson Counties are not currently endangered by changes in the federal payments for indigent care. Clay County’s Cumberland River Hospital (213 employees) is not so blessed; neither is Macon’s Macon County General Hospital (119 employees). Smith County’s Riverview Regional North (144 employees) and Riverview Regional South (25 employees) are also at risk of curtailing their operations or closing.
More than 20% of all counties’ citizens are under 18. The rates range from a low of 21.50% in Clay County to a high of 25.10% in Wilson County. Young people are particularly at risk for ‘falling through the cracks’ of health care.
Concerned citizens of District 17 can contact Senator Mae Beavers at 615-741-2421.