Senate District 26, Senator Dolores Gresham, consists of eight small counties: Chester, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, and McNairy. How will these counties fare if Governor Haslam does not submit a federally acceptable Tennessee Plan for Medicaid Expansion?
Chester County has the lowest unemployment rate at 8.50%. Hardin follows with 9.50%, then Decatur at 9.60%, McNairy at 9.70%, Henderson at 10.60%, Hardeman at 11%, and Haywood at 11.20%. All have poverty rates in the double digits. Haywood is lowest at 16.40%, followed by Henderson at 17.20%. Next comes Hardin at 18.30%, Decatur at 19.20%, Chester at 19.30%, Hardeman at 20.70%, Fayette at 25%, then McNairy at 25.20%.
Fayette County has a median family annual income of $57,437. The other seven counties are all below the $40,000 level, with Decatur being the lowest at $30,311. Chester County has the highest median income of the seven: $39,776. To provide a comparison, 135% of the federal annual poverty level for the contiguous states is $31,792.50 for a family of four. The 135% level for a family of five is $37,219.50. Some citizens of these counties already qualify for Tenncare, but many will fall into the coverage gap between 100% poverty and 138% poverty.
13% of Chester County citizens are veterans, as are 10% of Decatur citizens, 14% of Fayette, 14% of Hardeman, 12% of Hardin, 15% of Haywood, 13% of Henderson, and 12% of McNairy. The Veterans Administration has a community based outpatient clinic in Savannah (Hardin County).
Chester County has no hospital. All the others have one hospital each. Only Methodist Healthcare in Fayette (74 employees) is in danger of curtailing operations or closing because of federal funding changes.
Over 20% of the population in all eight counties is 18 and under. Considering the statistics listed above, many of these children are likely to fall into the coverage gap if some type of Medicaid Expansion is not available.
Concerned District 26 citizens can contact Senator Dolores Gresham at 615-741-2368.